EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — UConn kicker Bobby Puyol sought out Virginia kicker Alex Furbank after the Huskies 13-10 win over the Cavaliers on Saturday.
Puyol had hit the game winner from 43-yards out with 1:33 left, then watched from the sideline as Furbank, a walk-on playing in his first football game at any level, missed a 20-yard field-goal attempt for Virginia as time expired.
“I just told him, ‘Man you’re going to do a good job, you’re going to get plenty more kicks,'” Puyol said. “Sometimes you make them, sometimes you don’t.”
It was the second game winner this season for Puyol, who had three extra points blocked a year ago. His 37-yard field goal with 11 seconds left beat Maine in the Huskies’ season-opener.
“I just knew,” Puyol said. “I said, ‘Get it down in field-goal range, ready to go and I’ll make it.”
UConn Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs completed 13 of 24 passes for 154 yards. He also ran for 33 yards and a touchdown as the Huskies (2-1), overcame an early 10-0 deficit with two fourth-quarter scores.
A 20-yard run by Shirreffs and a 23-yard screen play to Noel Thomas set up Puyol’s game winner.
But Virginia (0-3) got the ball back and moved right down the field. A 33-yard strike down the left side from Kurt Benkert to Doni Dowling put the Cavaliers in UConn territory. It appeared they would at least send the game into overtime after Benkert hit Keeon Johnson with a 34-yard fourth-down pass to put the ball inside the UConn 10.
The Husky defense stiffened, stopping Benkert’s keeper at the 2-yard line on third down. The Cavaliers, who had no timeouts remaining, were able to rush the field-goal unit onto the field. But Furbank pulled the ball left.
“I know I rushed the kick a little bit and that’s 100 percent on me,” he said.
It was the 17th straight road loss for Virginia, and leaves first-year coach Bronco Mendenhall still looking for his 100th career win. He was 99-43 during his 11-year tenure at BYU.
“I’m proud of the way my team played today,” he said. “They fought hard from the beginning and I think they took a step forward again today.”
Virginia opened the scoring with first quarter drives of 12 and 13 plays. The first led to a 23-yard field goal from Furbank. It was the sophomore’s first football kick. He played soccer at Division III Randolph-Macon before transferring to Virginia.
A 90-yard drive ended in a 9-yard touchdown run by Albert Reid that made it 10-0.
UConn drove to the Virginia 2-yard line in the second quarter but had to settle for a 21-yard field goal.
The Huskies missed several second-half scoring chances.
A third-quarter UConn drive was thwarted when Juan Thornhill out-dueled Husky receiver Noel Thomas in the end zone and came up with an interception. A fourth-quarter drive ended when Arkeel Newsome dropped a pitch and the fumble was recovered by Virginia’s Andrew Brown.
But Huskies got the ball right back when Jamar Summers intercepted Benkert. It was the first pick of the season for Summers, who had eight last season.
The Huskies, helped by interference and face mask calls on Virginia, drove 37-yards in nine plays to tie the game. Shirreffs ran the ball in on a sweep from a yard out.
Virginia then drove to the UConn 24-yard line, but a run by Albert Reid on fourth-and-1 came up short.
“It was painful, that’s all I can say,” Reid said. “There were plenty of plays on the field that we didn’t make.”
Newsome ran 13 times for 90 yards for UConn. Benkert completed 23 of 42 passes for 241 yards. Reid (73 yards) and running back Taquan Mizzell (66) combined for 139 yards.
VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers continued to make too many mistakes to win. They were penalized 10 times for 91 yards. The team had not won away from Charlottesville since Nov. 3, 2012, when Virginia beat North Carolina State 33-6.
UCONN: The Huskies three games this season have been decided by a total of 10 points. It was an important win for Connecticut, which lost last week at Navy when it was stopped inside the 1-yard line as time expired.
VIRGINIA: After traveling more than 6,000 miles over the last two weeks to play at Oregon and Connecticut, the Cavaliers return home to face Central Michigan next Saturday
UCONN: The Huskies play their second straight home game against an ACC opponent when they face Syracuse next Saturday. The Huskies play three non-conference games against the ACC this year. They will travel to Boston College in November.