EAST HARTFORD, CT - Darren Thellen and Tom Brandt teamed up to provide the most impressive play of the young season, but that was about the only thing that went right for the UMass Minutemen in their first ever FBS game as the UConn Huskies took a 20-0 lead in to halftime on Thursday night at Rentschler Field.
UConn scored the first points of the fresh campaign when star running back Lyle McCombs found the end zone on a one-yard rush, capping off a 12-play, 75-yard drive, to put the Huskies up 7-0 with 5:59 to play in the first quarter.
Chad Christen tacked on two field goals in the second quarter, connecting from 36 yards out with 9:04 to go in the second quarter and again from a career-long 47 yards with 2:47 remaining. Dwayne Gratz picked off UMass quarterback Mike Wegzyn and returned the ball 37 yards for a touchdown with 1:49 to play, making it 20-0.
Chandler Whitmer threw for 93 yards on 8-of-16 passing and was picked off once in his first half of FBS football for UConn. McCombs rushed for 55 yards and a score on 14 carries and Michael Smith had three catches for 30 yards to lead all Huskies receivers.
Wegzyn completed 5-of-12 passes for 21 yards and an interception. Chris Burns, who's nine-yard rush late in the second quarter accounted for the only Minutemen first down, had 14 rushing yards on six carries. Rob Blanchflower had two catches for 17 yards.
UMass did not record its first first down until the final minute of play in the first half.