The Huskies lost starting quarterback Zach Frazer with a knee injury at the end of the third (length of time unknown) and in the fourth quarter the Huskies saw a 10-0 lead against North Carolina evaporate.
North Carolina scored 12 unanswered fourth quarter points with the final points coming on a holding call in the end zone with 1:26 left as North Carolina escaped with a 12-10 victory before over 38,000 at Rentschler Field.
"I don't know if I ever have been in a game that ended that way," Edsall said. We played hard and fought to the very end. We just came up short. North Carolina is a good football team. It's just heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching to be on this side of it."
The Huskies (1-1) had taken a 10-0 lead into the fourth quarter after a 4-yard touchdown run from Jordan Todman (18 rushes, 66 yards). The defense had not relented for three quarters, but in the final 15 minutes couldn't get off the field. Running a lot of misdirection and bootlegs, the Tar Heels went on consecutive 78 yard drives. The first ended with a Gary Barth 22-yard field goal. The second drive ended with T.J. Yates (23-32-2, 233 yards) connecting on a 2-yard touchdown pass to Zack Pinalto with 2:36 left in the game.
That's when the wheels shockingly fell off the Huskies.
UConn got the ball at its own 20-yardline and instead of embarking on a game-winning drive, went backwards. A first down pass from backup Cody Endres went incomplete. Then, a snap from Moe Petrus sailed over the head of Endres for a 12 yard loss. That set up a third and 22 and passing out of the end zone on a slow developing pass, UNC (2-0) defensive end Robert Quinn and UConn tackle Dan Ryan fell to the turf.
The flag was thrown and the Huskies saw a 10-0 lead turn into a deficit.
"We had slid the protection and I turned to press back in," Ryan said. "We got tangled up and both went down. I didn't feel like I grabbed him and put him to the ground."
The Huskies almost pulled off a miracle ending of its own. The free kick was recovered by the Huskies on a perfect onside kick from Dave Teggart that was recovered by Alex Molina. Endres then connected on a 13-yardpass to Brad Kanuch and a 6-yardpass to Isiah Moore at midfield. Instead of calling a timeout (which UConn had two left), the Huskies went to their no huddle offense and passes to Kanuch and Todman fell incomplete. On fourth down, Endres had no chance and was sacked by Quinton Coples.
It was a crushing loss for the Huskies, who have to head to Big 12 country and play against Baylor in Waco, Texas next week. They may do so with their backup quarterback in as Frazer's diagnosis won't be known until Sunday at the earliest.
What was looking like a victory over a Top 25 team late in the third quarter ended with a loss of their starting quarterback and a crushing defeat. UConn is now 1-13 all-time against ranked teams.
"We have to look at it, put it behind us," Edsall said while knocking the podium with his fist. "And as I told the team. (UConn) could be a good football team but we got to handle this the right way and go and keep working. I have no doubt that is what we will do, and the good Lord willing stay healthy."
It's only game two, but the Huskies are at a crossroads.