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Mensah has a shot to join 1,000 yard club in UConn's regular season finale

Junior Kevin Mensah prefers not to talk about personal accomplishments.

He's all about the team.

While Mensah acknowledges that breaking the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the second straight season would be "fantastic," he quickly pivoted to giving credit to his UConn football teammates.

"It means something personal to me...," Mensah said. "But I'm not an individual guy. Just getting that many yards, I just want to thank my linemen and everyone on our offense. Without them, I wouldn't be able to get that."

Mensah needs just seven yards in Saturday's season finale against Temple (7-4, 4-3) in Philadelphia to reach 1,000 yards. He'd be just the second Husky running back to accomplish that feat in consecutive seasons. Jordan Todman pulled it off in 2009 and 2010.

Saturday's game at Lincoln Financial Field kicks off at 3:30 p.m.

Last season, Mensah piled up 1,045 yards on 225 carries. If he runs for his season average (90.3 yards per game) on Saturday, he'll set a personal best.

Quite an accomplishment considering the Huskies have struggled mightily the last two seasons, going a combined 3-20 overall, 0-15 in the American Athletic Conference.

Opposing defenses have regularly focused on stopping UConn's running attack to try to force the Huskies to rely on their inexperienced quarterbacks.

"People stack the box against us," coach Randy Edsall said. "It makes it a little more difficult to run. How many guys are going to rush for 1,000 yards this year?"

In the AAC, Mensah would be the fourth player to join the club. Navy senior Malcolm Perry is the leading rusher with 1,354 yards, followed by Kenneth Gainwell of Memphis with 1,294 and SMU's Xavier Jones with 1,124.

Mensah has managed to stay relatively healthy this season despite taking a beating on game days. He's built as tough as a tank, checking in at stocky 5-foot-9, 198-pounds.

"I feel good," Mensah said. "I'm just excited to go one last game. Hopefully, all the guys can come out and just show everyone what we've got for next year because we're excited for the schedule."

Next year, UConn will be playing as an independent.

It's important to the Huskies (2-9, 0-7) to leave the AAC on a high note and set the tone for next season. They'll be attempting to break an 18-game losing streak in conference play. They haven't won an AAC road game since defeating Temple, 28-24, on Oct. 14, 2017.

They've stayed positive during what's been another tough season.

"It is very frustrating, but if we just keep believing and keep trusting in the process and just do what the coaches want you to do and you do your job, the wins will come," Mensah said. "Winning is very hard, too. We've just got to put in the work."

With one more season left, Mensah will have a crack at catching the program's all-time leading rusher, Donald Brown, who finished his outstanding career with 3,800 yards. Mensah is ranked sixth all-time with 2,599.

g.keefe@theday.com

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