EAST HARTFORD - UConn quarterback David Pindell understands that his Huskies are going to have to score a lot of points to win games this season.
The senior threw for 308 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 137 yards and two more as UConn (1-2) held off Rhode Island from the FCS 56-49 in a shootout on Saturday.
Pindell outdueled Rams quarterback JuJuan Lawson, who threw for 351 yards and four scores and ran for 85 yards and two TDs.
The teams combined for 1,123 yards of offense.
The Huskies, who had three touchdowns in their first two games, got into the end zone on all six of their drives in the first half. That included a 74-yard strike from Pindell to freshman Heron Maurisseau who found himself wide open in the middle of the field for his first collegiate score. They led 42-28 at the break.
“It definitely showed that we can do a lot with the ball on offense,” Pindell said. “And defensively, the young dudes, they made plays when it counted.”
Rhode Island (2-1) tied the game at 49 with just over 3 minutes left on a 14-yard run by Naim Jones (100 yards), who pushed UConn defensive back Messiah Turner into the end zone.
UConn responded and running back Kevin Mensah (144 yards) scored the winning touchdown by breaking up the middle for 22 yards with under a minute to go.
Rhode Island drove to the UConn 16 with 11 seconds left, but linebacker Eli Thomas sacked Lawson to end the game.
“We knew we were going to get a stop,” Thomas said. “We trusted that we were going to get a stop and that's what we did.”
UConn: After being outscored 118-24 against No. 18 UCF and No. 17 Boise State, the Huskies needed a bounce-back game. Pindell responded with career highs in passing, passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. But the Huskies, who came in giving up an average of 753 yards in its first two games, allowed 550 in this one, 307 in the first half.
URI: The Rams, who have had 16 straight losing seasons, showed they have the offense to break that streak this year. They didn't have a punt, or even a third down in the first half.
“The offensive attitude and belief is very impressive to watch and there's no doubt when you watch the whole second half, there was some freaky stuff going on out there and it's really cool to see and I'm sure it's fun to watch,” said coach Jim Fleming.
Rhode Island has just one win over an FBS program, a 26-21 win over UConn in 2000 when the Huskies were transitioning from what was then I-AA. The teams’ rivalry dates to 1897. The Huskies now lead the series 52-34-8.
The Huskies started five true freshmen, two redshirt freshmen and four sophomores on defense. They had to go with six true freshmen when sophomore corner Tahj Herring-Wilson left the game in the first half with an ankle injury. UConn has now given up 17 drives of 70 yards or longer this season.
Rhode Island: The Rams return to the FCS with a game on Sept. 29 at Harvard.
UConn: The Huskies travel to Syracuse next Saturday for a matchup of former Big East teams.