EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Noel Thomas caught two touchdown passes, including a 45-yarder on a trick play in the fourth quarter, and UConn beat No. 13 Houston 20-17 on Saturday.
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The Huskies held the previously unbeaten Cougars to 318 yards of offense, almost 200 below their season average.
Houston quarterback Kyle Postma, playing in place of Heisman hopeful Greg Ward Jr., Threw for 185 yards and a touchdown.
Ward, who rolled his left ankle a week ago against Memphis, came in during Houston’s last drive, but was intercepted by Jamar Summers and UConn (6-5, 4-3 American Athletic Conference) ran out the clock.
Thomas’ second TD came with just under 10 minutes left. Quarterback-turned-receiver Garrett Anderson took a pitch from Tim Boyle and found Thomas behind the Houston defense.
The Cougars (10-1, 6-1, No. 19 CFP) responded immediately, with Brandon Wilson returning the ensuing kickoff 94 yards to make it 20-17.
But Postma, who engineered Houston’s come-from-behind win over Memphis last week, could not do it again against UConn. The Cougars’ next drive ended when his fourth-down pass from to a diving Demarcus Ayers was ruled out of bounds on a replay.
Houston hosts Navy next Saturday for a spot in the Dec. 5 conference championship game.
Arkeel Newsome ran for 114 yards on 32 carries for the Huskies, who became bowl eligible for the first time since the 2010 season.
Newsome carried the ball 42 yards straight up the middle on the first play of the game and rushed for 68 yards during the opening drive. Byrant Shirreffs then rolled out and hit Thomas in the front right corner of the end zone for a 4-yard TD pass with 11:40 left in the first quarter.
It was Shirreffs’ only pass of the game. He was injured on the Huskies’ next drive when a diving Elandon Roberts hit the quarterback as he was sliding after a run. Roberts, the conference’s leading tackler, was hit with a targeting penalty and ejected.
Boyle completed 12 of 22 passes for 110 yards.
Houston got on the board on Ty Cummings’ 29-yard field goal after a 72-yard drive stalled in the second quarter.
The Huskies carried a 10-3 lead into halftime after defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi stripped Postma to set up a 25-yard field goal for Bobby Puyol.
GALLERY: HOW THE TOP 25 FARED.