AMHERST, N.Y. (AP) — Johnny McEntee has suddenly earned an edge in Connecticut’s three-way quarterback competition after throwing two touchdowns in a 17-3 win over Buffalo on Saturday night.
He’s certainly found a favorite target in junior receiver Nick Williams.
A third-year walk-on, McEntee finished 12 of 21 for 213 yards in helping the Huskies (2-2) snap a two-game losing skid.
Williams sealed the victory with a 49-yard touchdown catch with 4:52 left. He finished with two catches for 113 yards, including a 64-yard catch that set up Mark Hinkley’s 4-yard touchdown in the final seconds of the first half.
The Huskies defense did the rest in helping UConn extend its win streak over Buffalo to seven games — a stretch that includes a win in the 2009 International Bowl. Yawin Smallwood had an interception in the end zone as part of a defense that allowed the Bulls to score only 3 points from three trips into the red zone.
Chazz Anderson finished 18 of 39 for 193 yards for Buffalo (1-3), which has lost 10 of its last 11. Marcus Rivers had nine catches for 94 yards.
It was a sloppy, defensive-oriented game between two programs seeking to kickstart their seasons before getting into the thick of conference play.
The game was tied at 3 before UConn finally took control on its final drive of the first half, thanks to McEntee, who’s been competing with Scott McCummings and Michael Nebrich for the starting job.
McEntee capped a four-play 83-yard drive by hitting a wide-open Hinkley, who sneaked out of the backfield into the right flats for a 4-yard touchdown with 15 seconds left in the half. It was McEntee’s fourth start of the season, and the touchdown was the first of his career.
Williams has finally gotten his shot in playing a role in the offense after the junior led the nation in kickoff returns a year ago. He showed his speed and shiftiness in setting up the Huskies first touchdown in the final minute of the first half.
Catching the ball on a crossing route over the middle, he shook off Buffalo defensive back Isaac Baugh’s attempted tackle, and then burst free up the middle for UConn’s longest completion of the season.
Williams’ touchdown came on a very similar play. This time cutting from the right over the middle, he caught the ball and somehow escaped the grasp of Buffalo’s Najja Johnson, who got both arms around him. Williams then cut back to the left and was untouched into the end zone to seal the win with 4:52 remaining.
Buffalo’s offense lacked finish. Down 10-3 at the half, Buffalo’s Chazz Anderson engineered a 70-yard drive to the Huskies’ 5, only to have a third-down pass intercepted in the end zone by Smallwood. In the first quarter, Buffalo’s Peter Fardon missed a 30-yard field goal attempt that went wide left. On their next possession, Anderson marched the Bulls to the Huskies 7 only to be undone by a holding penalty. Buffalo settled on Fardon hitting a 28-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
The Huskies also squandered a field goal attempt when Dave Teggart’s 49-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Buffalo’s Steven Means late in the first quarter. Teggart missed two of four attempts in last week’s 24-20 loss to Iowa State.