Huskies Battled Bug

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Connecticut football team left Maryland's Byrd Stadium Saturday afternoon feeling considerably better than it did when it arrived.

The Huskies were hit by a virus this past week and the team hotel in Silver Spring, Md., this weekend seemed more like a hospital infirmary than a place to rest before a road game. Somehow the Huskies fought it all off, played on without a couple of key players and still returned home with a 24-21 victory over the Terps.

When asked how many players were sick, a UConn official told reporters "quite a few." Coach Paul Pasqualoni said players started coming down with the illness late in the week and it spread rapidly.

"You always feel good after a W," defensive tackle Ryan Wirth said. "I've got a little congestion, nothing crazy. Some of my teammates were pretty sick. We spent a lot of time together. We're in the [football] facility so many hours a day. "Once someone gets sick, everybody does. It's like family, you know?"

The first public sign that something was wrong appeared during pregame practice and exercising when right guard Adam Masters appeared on the field in a T-shirt and shorts rather than full gear. Masters didn't play Saturday and was replaced in the starting lineup with Gus Cruz.

Masters, a fifth-year senior from nearby Bethesda, must have been disappointed. A large group of his family and friends were at the game - part of an impressive and vocal UConn contingent in Byrd Stadium Saturday.

Pasqualoni said key defensive players Sio Moor and Dwayne Gratz were among the ill who played. Linebacker Yawin Smallwood admitted he had some symptoms.

"Some of them couldn't play and some of them played," Pasqualoni said. "Obvioulsy it's hard to win on the road. I told the kids that it was a really good team win."

Compounding things was the fact that starting cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson has a slight hamstring pull and Paqsualoni decided to hold him out of action Saturday. The injury happened Thursday in practice. As a result, Maryland and coach Randy Edsall and the Terps tested junior replacement Taylor Mack all game. Mack responded with four tackles, including one for a loss.

Late in the game, starting defensive end Jesse Joseph had to be helped off the field. Pasqualoni said he hadn't heard the medical report but he thought it might be an Achilles tendon injury. An update on that will likely come Sunday.


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