"I felt like it was a big momentum change," Moore said. "I went out there and ran a corner route. Once I turned my head, I saw the ball in the air and I did my best to go up and get it. After that, I just had to get into the end zone. I saw the safety had a good angle, so I stuttered a little bit and tried to jump into the end zone."
Moore's leaping grab of the 39-yard touchdown pass, thrown by quarterback Scott McCummings, and his journey into the end zone belong on a season highlight film. It really was that spectacular. The only problem is the Huskies couldn't hold the lead Moore had given them and UConn (1-2) lost to Iowa State 24-20 before 37,195 at Rentschler Field.
If that score sounds familiar, maybe its because the Huskies lost 24-21 one week earlier at Vanderbilt. The similarities don't end there. UConn did some things well and then squandered opportunity after opportunity.
A second consecutive week of disappointment has this football frustrated. Moore said the Huskies came away "hungry for a win" and called upon the leadership among the players (he's one of the captains) to turn things around. Senior defensive tackle Kendall Reyes was a little more blunt.
"We're definitely pissed," Reyes said. "We have the parts. We're out there making plays. We've just got to do it a full 60 minutes. That's where our trouble is coming in. We're doing it for most of the game, but a couple slips, a couple missed tackles, a couple of big plays – and you lose games that way."
UConn held Iowa State (3-0) to 12 first downs, one week after limiting Vanderbilt to 10. Dwayne Gratz, Byron Jones and Jory Johnson all intercepted Cyclones quarterback Steele Jantz, last week's Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, in the first quarter. Reyes also sacked Jantz for a two-yard loss on third down in the first quarter.
The Huskies started first quarter drives at their own 43, the Iowa State 41, the Iowa Sate 34 and the Iowa State 28 and held a 10-0 lead. But they knew they didn't make the most of their field position.
"We're moving the ball; we've just got to finish on those drives," said starting quarterback Johnny McEntee, who was 13-for-30 for 188 yards and one interception. "At halftime we should have had at least 20-plus points. We had a couple of those drives we didn't finish."
Placekicker Dave Teggart hit a 52-yard field goal to tie his career longest in the first quarter and added a 50-yarder in the third. But he was 2-for-4 on the night, missing a 41-yard in the first quarter and a 43-yarder in the second.
"There was no wind tonight," Teggart said. "I just didn't really have a good game. It was nice to make the 50-yarders, but if I made all those kicks it might be a different game. Unfortunately tonight, I had a couple of chip shots – for me – that I just let get away."
The developing pattern with the Huskies begins with the defense holding opponents down and then allowing costly big plays. The way the offense is sputtering that becomes a dangerous combination. But no one is pointing fingers.
"Our offense did great," Reyes said. "We had the lead and we let it slip. We let last week's lead slip also. We could all do better, but we had the game. We've got to get back in there, make the corrections and move on."
Iowa State took a 14-10 lead on a reverse play set in motion by Jantz's handoff to James White. The running back, who had a 26-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, pitched to wide receiver Josh Lenz, who passed 40 yards to a wide open Darius Reynolds for a 14-10 Cyclones lead.
Reynolds also caught the winning pass, a 20-yarder from Jantz with 9:08 left in the game. Reynolds finished that off by hurdling Jeremy Junior and Blidi Wreh-Wilson before striding into the end zone.
"We just got flat-out fooled on the long touchdown," UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "They hit it. We had one of those and we didn't hit it. When you get those opportunities, you need to cash in."
Pasqualoni was referring to an overthrow by McCummings in the first quarter, with Lyle McCombs wide open and headed down the right sideline to the end zone.
Another missed opportunity.
Then there's the case of Isiah Moore, who caught eight passes for a 143-yard night (both career highs). But he also fumbled the ball on UConn's first possession of the third quarter, handing the all over to the Cyclones on their own 46. That led to the razzle dazzle play on the reverse.
"We won the turnover battle and when you do that, you have a heckuva chance to win the game," Pasqualoni said. "The next thing it comes down to is making big plays."
Pasqualoni used McEntee, McCummings and Mike Nebrich at quarterback again. It's hard to say that one distinguished himself over the others. But from the tone of Pasqualoni's voice, the experiment with three may be over soon. He didn't want to say who might have the edge.
"I'm going to grade the film and then we'll make a decision [Saturday] afternoon in regard to whether we keep going the way we're going or we select one. But my sense is I want to grade the film before I say anything."
If the coaches are looking for productivity, the selection might be McCummings, the redshirt freshman. McCummings ran for a 10-yard TD and passed to Kashif Moore for another. He ran for 38 yards on 10 carries.
If McCummings has started to pull away from the field, he doesn't know it.
"Only time will tell," McCummings said. "Honestly, I have no idea how things will turn out for me."