Unable to build momentum off rare win, UConn football thumped by Middle Tennessee

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Unable to build momentum off rare win, UConn football thumped by Middle Tennessee
© Provided by Connecticut Post

UConn tight end Brandon Niemenski (83) scores on an 8-yard touchdown reception against Middle Tennessee State during an NCAA football game on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 in East Hartford, Conn.

EAST HARTFORD — UConn football’s fortunes aren’t likely to turn around anytime soon — at least not before this ugly season is unceremoniously put to rest.

Unable to build momentum off rare win, UConn football thumped by Middle Tennessee
© Provided by Connecticut Post

UConn tight end Brandon Niemenski (83) scores on an 8-yard touchdown reception against Middle Tennessee State during an NCAA football game on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 in East Hartford, Conn.

While beating Yale provided the too-often-overmatched Huskies some momentary satisfaction, the same problems remain.

The Huskies aren’t good enough to overcome self-inflicted wounds like penalties and turnovers. Rather, they’re not good enough, period.

The latest reminder came Friday at Rentschler Field, where they were thumped 44-13 by Middle Tennessee, dropping to 1-8.

Chase Cunningham (25-of-36) shredded the UConn defense, passing for 297 yards and four scores in a shade over three quarters.

The blowout loss came on the heels of a 21-15 victory over Yale, which snapped an 11-game losing streak.

The night began inauspiciously for UConn when wide receiver Aaron Turner lost a fumble at the Huskies’ 33 in the first quarter, one of three turnovers. MTSU converted that into a 20-yard field goal for the game’s first points. The Blue Raiders then extended their lead to 10-0 with a 14-yard touchdown catch by Jimmy Marshall on their next drive.

Unable to build momentum off rare win, UConn football thumped by Middle Tennessee
© Provided by Connecticut Post

UConn running back Kevin Mensah (34) carries against Middle Tennessee State during an NCAA football game on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 in East Hartford, Conn.

The Huskies responded — and did so rather quickly — with Steven Krajewski’s 8-yard scoring strike to tight end Brandon Niemenski early in the second quarter, then tied it 10-10 on a 47-yard field goal by Joe McFadden.

Izaiah Gathings reclaimed the lead for MTSU, 17-10, on a 25-yard catch, and things continued to spiral from there for the Huskies. It marked the first of six straight scoring drives, only one lasting longer than 4:36, that turned a see-saw affair into a laugher.

The Huskies were outscored 20-0 in the second half, and now head into a two-week bye before entering the homestretch of this forgettable year. They’ll be back in action Nov. 13 at Clemson.

Unable to build momentum off rare win, UConn football thumped by Middle Tennessee
© Provided by Connecticut Post

UConn running back Nathan Carter (26) carries against Middle Tennessee State during an NCAA football game on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 in East Hartford, Conn.

Krajewski (21-of-35) passed for 237 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, while Keelan Marion had a team-high 74 yards receiving.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour

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