TAMPA (AP) — Late turnovers cost Connecticut in a close loss to South Florida.
Chandler Whitmer threw a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions as the Huskies were beaten 13-6 by South Florida on Saturday night.
“You just can’t have that many things happen in a tight game like this and expect to be successful,” UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said. “Too many bad things. Crazy things. You can’t turn it over like that and expect to come out of a close game like this with a win. That’s the bottom line.”
B.J. Daniels ran for a first-quarter touchdown before leaving in the fourth with a season-ending ankle injury as South Florida stopped a school-record six-game losing streak. The touchdown gave Daniels 25 for his career, the most in South Florida history.
Daniels was hurt on a 15-yard run inside the UConn 10 just over five minutes into the fourth. The senior quarterback couldn’t put any weight on his left leg as he was helped from the field.
“From what I’m being told at this point, it is likely a broken ankle and B.J. will be done for the year,” South Florida coach Skip Holtz said. “This is a young man that has competed his tail off and given everything that he had to this university for the last four years. This is painful. It’s hard.”
The Bulls settled for a 28-yard field goal by Maikon Bonani later in the drive to take a 10-6 advantage. Bonani added a 50-yard kick to extend the lead to 13-6 with four and a half minutes left.
South Florida was the only FBS team in the nation without an interception until safety Jon Lejiste picked off Whitmer’s pass at the USF 10 with 6:27 remaining in the game.
A late UConn drive ended with 50 seconds to go when Elkino Watson intercepted a Whitmer pass. Whitmer has thrown 13 interceptions this season.
Whitmer did complete 24 of 38 passes for 284 yards.
“It’s crazy to put up some good numbers like that and then only have six points and no touchdowns and lose the game,” Whitmer said. “That’s why it’s hard to look at stats, but the biggest stat that matters we didn’t get. It’s tough.”
The Huskies, one game after being held to minus-6 rushing yards by Syracuse, picked up just 43 ground yards on 31 attempts against the Bulls.
Chad Christen had two field goals for UConn (3-6, 0-4), which has dropped six of eight following a season-opening victory over Massachusetts. The Huskies were coming off a bye week.
South Florida (3-6, 1-4) had dropped 12 of its last 13 Big East games dating to November 2010. The Bulls squandered a 20-point halftime lead en route to a 37-36 loss to Syracuse on Nov. 27.
South Florida played without linebacker Sam Barrington, who was suspended for the game. The team said the Bulls’ leading tackler was cited by police for driving with a revoked license.
Daniels put the Bulls up 7-0 with his record breaking, 5-yard TD run with 4:08 left in the first.
UConn got within 7-3 when Christen made a 50-yard field goal two seconds before halftime. His second field goal of the game, from 37 yards with 4:28 to go in the third, made it 7-6.
“We’re down, but we’re going to get back up,” Huskies’ wide receiver Geremy Davis said. “No one has given up. We’ve still got three more games. The season isn’t over. We’ve got to find a positive out of this.”
The Huskies had failed to score during the second half in their previous three games.
South Florida threatened to extend its early lead midway through the second, but UConn cornerback Dwayne Gratz intercepted Daniels’ pass in the end zone.
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