A day for the 'D' to celebrate

UConn linebacker Jory Johnson puts a hit on Rutgers' Jeremy Deering (18) during the Huskies' 40-22 victory Saturday at Rentschler Field. Johnson had eight tackles.
UConn linebacker Jory Johnson puts a hit on Rutgers' Jeremy Deering (18) during the Huskies' 40-22 victory Saturday at Rentschler Field. Johnson had eight tackles. Abigail Pheiffer/The Day Buy Photo

East Hartford - Kendall Reyes was asked to elaborate on what he saw during his nine-yard fumble return for a touchdown midway through the second quarter of Saturday's 40-22 win over Rutgers.

"I saw a ball on the ground and I picked it up and ran to the end zone," joked Reyes, a communication science major and one of 13 seniors honored prior to their final home game. "You want some imagery?"

Reyes and the UConn defense kept it simple all game, dominating the line of scrimmage from the start.

"You can see when we have everything going, everybody on the same page, it's scary," linebacker Sio Moore said. "This game was going to be won by the team that out-hit the other guys. Guys were (ticked) off. We had to come out and dominate."

The Huskies wasted little time on defense, forcing turnovers on Rutgers' first two possessions and turning them directly into touchdowns.

"The kids were really prepared, especially early in the game," UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "They knew exactly what they were looking at. They played with confidence because they were prepared and focused on what they were doing.

"When you're playing that way and you're sure of what you have and what you're seeing, it just seems that you play faster and you play with more emotion. That generates passion and that generates excitement and generates momentum."

UConn forced six turnovers in all. They also had six sacks, four by Trevardo Williams, who also forced a fumble.

Jory Johnson had eight tackles, while Blidi Wreh-Wilson had seven and an interception. Ty-meer Brown broke up three passes and had an interception and Moore had six tackles - two for losses - forced a fumble, had a sack and intercepted a pass.

"The way we played last week was definitely not us," Reyes said. "It was tough to digest some stuff on film but you have to learn from it. We wanted to set the tone early and often."

Game notes

Several of the 13 seniors produced for UConn on Senior Day, including backup running back Jonathan Jean-Louis, who ran for a career-high 43 yards on 10 carries. Kashif Moore had three catches for 34 yards, while Moe Petrus and Mike Ryan each started on the offensive line. Defensively, Twyon Martin had three tackles and a half of a sack and kicker Dave Teggart kicked two field goals, including a 33-yarder with one second left in the first half. He had an extra point blocked, the first miss of his career after 128 made. "These seniors, I don't think we want to sit home in December and watch everyone else play their bowl games," Teggart said.

Nick Williams had 158 return yards, while UConn punter Cole Wagner had two punts downed at the 1-yard line, one each by Tevrin Brandon and Taylor Mack.

"We work really hard on special teams," Pasqualoni said. "They're a big part of our meeting time and practice time every day. We expect to be good on special teams."

o.poole@theday.com

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