Just in the Nick of Time

It's never a good thing when a head coach gets stuck in an elevator and is left behind at the team hotel. Fortunately for Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni, he was rescued and made it to the University of Buffalo in time for Saturday night's non-conference football game.

Just a few hours later, you might say quarterback Johnny McEntee and wide receiver Nick Williams rescued UConn's season with a couple of huge pass plays as the Huskies went on to a 17-3 victory over Buffalo.

The Huskies (2-2) still have issues on offense and starting cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson spent the second half on crutches after injuring his leg at the end of the first half. But UConn needed this victory against its MAC opponent in the worst way. The Huskies, coming off consecutive losses to Vanderbilt and Iowa State, have just one more non-conference game remaining before diving into Big East play Oct. 8 at West Virginia.

"The defense did play very well," Pasqualoni said during his postgame show on WTIC-AM. "They kept us in the game and we got the big play right before the end of the half. Nick made a heck of a play."

Williams, one of the top kick returners in the Big East, had not caught a pass in the first three games of the season. But against Buffalo, his 64-yard reception in the second quarter set up UConn's first touchdown. And then he turned on the afterburners and a made an outstanding move to shake a defender for a 49-yard TD late in the game that sealed UConn's victory.

"I thought Johnny had a great avoid and push up in the pocket to hit Nick on the big touchdown to kind of give us a little bit of breathing room," Pasqualoni said. "The big plays on offense came in a very timely fashion."

It remains to be seen whether or not McEntee has wrapped up the spot as UConn's quarterback. He started his fourth consecutive game and was on the field for the majority of the snaps. But Mike Nebrich and Scott McCummings each took their turn under center.

The night began in strange fashion, with the Huskies waiting for their coach to get to the stadium after the elevator incident. Director of football administration Tim Pendergast and two video assistants also had to climb up a ladder to escaped the stuck elevator that held all of them captive for almost an hour.

"When they came up with the ladder, I was kind of happy," Pasqualoni said. "I thought we were going to have to climb out of it, like they do in the movies. The ladder was a welcome sight, I promise you that."

And then there was the news that starting safety Jerome Junior had not made the trip because of a violation of team policy. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Byron Jones, who has gotten off to a good start in the defensive backfield this season. But when Wreh-Wilson went down, he had to be replaced by Gary Wilburn, who was beat on a long pass play early in the third quarter.

Wilburn also came close to being called for pass interference in the end zone, but Yawin Smallwood bailed him out and may have change the momentum of the game with an interception that prevented the Bulls (1-3) from scoring after an 80-yard drive.

McEntee was 12 of 21 for 213 yards. He threw his first two touchdown passes of the season, including a 4-yard strike to Mark Hinkley after the 64-yard reception by Williams. Most importantly, McEntee did not throw an interception.

UConn finished with just 13 first downs and 293 yards. The Huskies had only 80 yards on the ground and were 4-for-15 on third down conversions. But the final score is the important thing and Pasqualoni was just happy to witness a victory, one that made him the all-time coaching leader in the Big East with 109 victories.


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