EAST HARTFORD – The revolution is real.
All season long, the UConn football program and its social media team has referenced and pushed the narrative that “the Revolution” was coming when it comes to success on the field after so many down years. With new head coach Jim Mora at the helm, it’s been a nice thought and the team has certainly made strides this season, but surely this current version of the Huskies wouldn’t be bowl eligible for a while…right?
Well, with a smothering 13-3 win over Boston College, UConn has every right to believe it can reach a bowl game this season. The victory over BC was the first in program history for UConn, the first Power 5 win since 2016 and also moved the Huskies to 4-5 on the year, the highest win total since 2015.
UConn has faced a plethora of injuries this year just like the Eagles. Mora and his staff also have a true freshman running things at quarterback, which makes the fact that bowl games are even a discussion this late in the season quite remarkable. It also speaks to just how much buy-in there is from the players when it comes to Mora’s messaging.
“I’m happy for the players, I’m happy for our staff, I’m happy for UConn Nation,” Mora said postgame. “This program has never beaten Boston College. For us to be able to go out and do that today, it felt really good for everybody. This program has been through a lot as you guys know over the last several years and these players have been through a lot. They struggled on the field, Covid canceled the season, coaching change last year and through it all, they’ve just never wavered.
“I can tell you that with an absolute straight face without even a hint of trying to embellish. It’s just the way they’re built and I felt that when I got here and I felt it even more today. I’m not a guy that likes to say anyone deserves anything, we work to earn things. But, I’m going to tell you this they’ve worked to earn it, they deserve it and it’s a step in the right direction.”
The score alone tells you this was not a pretty game by any means. BC entered desperately needing to turn its season around, but instead only cemented that this is a lost year for the guys in the gold helmets. To its credit, UConn jumped at the opportunity to continue its ascent at the expense of the Eagles.
Three plays into the game Zion hit Justin Joly for a 62 yard touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead. Boston College faced a fourth and short situation at its own 35 and decided to go for it on its first possession, but a Phil Jurkovec quarterback sneak was denied.
The Huskies got a bit too cute with play calling and had to settle for a Noe Ruelas 31 yard field goal for the 10-0 lead just 7:18 into the game. Jurkovec was picked off by Chris Shearin four plays later, but Ruelas missed a 41 yard attempt.
The Eagles got on the board early in the second quarter thanks to a Connor Lytton 19 yard field goal. UConn had to punt its next possession but quickly got the ball back when Durante Jones picked Jurkovec off in the end zone and the teams eventually went to halftime still at 10-3.
The slogfest ramped up in sloginess (that’s probably not a word, but whatever) in the third quarter as both teams combined for six punts in a scoreless 15 minutes. However, Jurkovec ended up having to leave the game with a lower body injury after taking an awkward hit on a designed run, leaving things up to backup Emmett Morehead. Throughout the afternoon, the BC offense just couldn’t deal with UConn’s relentlessness, particularly Jackson Mitchell who recovered two fumbles, made 12 tackles (six solo) and added an interception.
“For this team to really do it, a team that’s trying to flip the switch and change this program, for us to do it this year is obviously really exciting, I’m so proud of these guys,” said Mitchell.
After trading punts one more time early in the fourth, Carter Hooper recovered a fumble at the BC 32, setting up a Ruelas field goal that made it 13-3 with 6:26 to go. Morehead was picked off by Mitchell five plays later. BC quickly forced a punt, but it was muffed by Zay Flowers – who was held in check with just two catches and 35 yards – and UConn scooped that up too. After the Huskies turned it over on downs running out the clock, Lytton missed a late field goal, allowing Turner to come out and take a knee in victory formation.
The next quest for UConn during this revolution is UMass. The Minutemen were on a level playing field with their rivals just a few months ago, but as that rebuild continues to sputter along, the Huskies’ sudden resurgence could produce a .500 team around 11 P.M. next Friday night in what should be an electric atmosphere.
In the press conference room at The Rent, there’s a sign with a quote from ESPN analyst and UConn’s all-time leading passer Dan Orlovsky. Towards the end of the quote, it says: “This is the mecca of Connecticut sports. The pride of our state. The home of our fiercest warriors. The HEART of New England.”
After this victory and whether the Huskies end up making a bowl game or not, when it comes to New England football, that statement now rings as true as it has in a long time.
“I’ve felt this coming,” added Mora. “But, I tell them all the time, it doesn’t matter unless you back it up. This one only matters if we go back it up. I think there’s a real focus. I think these guys made a little bit of a declaration today that they were going to play a certain way and they played that way.
“I hope (this win) provides hope, I hope it brings people back into the stadium, we hope it shows we’re on the right trajectory. That’s an ACC team. That’s a Power 5 football team. That’s a team I think was 38-3 or 35-3 against other teams in the Northeast We were underdogs, but we found a way to win and we’ve just got to build on that.”