CINCINNATI (AP) — Some homecoming for T.J. Weist.
Connecticut’s interim head coach returned to the stadium where he had many great moments as an assistant and watched the winless Huskies take one of their worst drubbings of the season. Brendon Kay threw for four touchdowns and ran for another in Cincinnati’s 41-16 win on Saturday.
UConn (0-6, 0-2) had a tough time overall in what amounted to a homecoming for Weist, who took over after Paul Pasqualoni was fired after four games. Weist was an assistant at Cincinnati the last three seasons under Butch Jones, who left for Tennessee.
“It was bittersweet coming back here,” he said. “It was nice to see the guys (from Cincinnati), but my focus is on our team.”
One of Weist’s first moves as interim coach was elevating freshman Tim Boyle to starting quarterback. In his second start, the 6-foot-4 pocket passer was under constant pressure and threw an interception that helped the Bearcats take control late in the first half.
Deven Drane tipped Boyle’s pass and picked it off, returning it 41 yards to the 2-yard line. Kay ran the final few inches on a keeper with 1:31 left in the half.
Boyle was sacked by Silverberry Mouhon as Cincinnati forced a punt, and Kay completed three passes, including a 32-yarder to Max Morrison for another touchdown with 17 seconds left in the half for a 27-3 lead.
“The speed of the game is so much faster,” Boyle said. “Looks in practice are great, but it’s nothing like the speed in a game. I have to get faster at making my reads. I have to go through the progressions faster because the protection won’t hold up that long.”
Boyle was 22 of 39 for 310 yards with the three interceptions, one of them in the end zone. He was sacked eight times by a defense that blitzed more than it had in any other game this season, taking advantage of his inexperience.
“Tim made some good throws,” Weist said. “He also made mistakes. He has to get faster at making decisions, and he will. A lot of the late sacks were on me. I went empty in the backfield too many times. They (Cincinnati) adjusted.”
Connecticut managed only 156 yards while falling behind 34-3 against a defense ranked sixth nationally in yards allowed and fourth in pass defense.
“We have to understand this is not just about effort,” Weist said. “It’s about making plays, getting momentum and keeping it. We showed glimpses.”
UConn scored on Max DeLorenzo’s 12-yard run and Marquise Vann’s 40-yard fumble return.
“It was nice to score my first touchdown,” DeLorenzo said. “It was the only positive. It’s frustrating but we have six games left and we can turn in around.”
The Huskies’ defense had a rough time, too.
Kay was the American Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week for a three-touchdown performance in a win over Temple. The sixth-year senior had a hand in four first-half touchdowns on Saturday, helping the Bearcats (5-2, 2-1) take control on a cool, rainy afternoon.
Kay tied his career high with the four touchdown passes — each to a different receiver — and was 17 of 24 for 300 yards.
Kay slightly injured the wrist on his throwing arm when it hit a teammate’s helmet on a follow-through in the second quarter. He stayed in the game and threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Blake Annen on the next play, hitting the closely covered tight end in stride.
Kay got his fourth touchdown pass on a quick flip to Anthony McClung, who went 28 yards in the fourth quarter. It was the third time in his career that Kay threw for four TDs.
Jordan Luallen, a running quarterback who comes in for wildcat packages, threw his first career touchdown pass on Cincinnati’s opening drive of the second half. He faked a handoff to Kay, who stayed in the game as a receiver and went in motion, and lobbed the ball 27 yards to a wide-open Chris Moore.
The Bearcats nearly had another touchdown in the third quarter when safety Mike Tyson returned an interception 87 yards, but was stripped of the ball at the 7 and fumbled it out of the end zone for a touchback.
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