A Heartbreaking Loss
UConn comes up short in emotional, back-and-forth game
Published: Monday, October 26, 2009
Updated: Monday, October 26, 2009 01:10
Connecticut's Kashif Moore walked off Mountaineer Field Saturday following the Huskies' 28-24 loss to West Virginia with his hand held high in a special formation.
"The Haiti sign," the receiver called it.
It was to honor his former teammate and one of his closest friends, cornerback Jasper Howard, who was murdered outside the University of Connecticut Student Union last Sunday.
"Keep your head high," a Connecticut fan yelled towards Moore as the sophomore attempted to fight back tears.
Just a week ago to the day, Moore was holding a dying Howard in his arms, praying his friend would survive another day. Saturday, he carried Howard's jersey onto the field.
The two teams lined up at the hash marks before the game for a moment of silence to honor the fallen Husky. While Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall said he took the time to remember Howard and his family and wished that his team could make him proud despite his absence, Moore attempted for a better connection.
"I said a little prayer and tried to talk to Jazz," Moore said. "I told him to lead us to victory and help us make plays."
With 20 seconds to go in the first half, Moore made his play. The sophomore caught a ball from UConn quarterback Cody Endres on a crossing route for a 17-yard touchdown to give Connecticut a 17-14 lead entering halftime.
He showed the "Haiti" sign immediately after.
"I told myself that if I got in the end zone, I was going to throw up the Haiti sign like Jazz always did. I had to," Moore said, who finished the game with four catches for 62 yards.
"Jazz was out there watching over us through the whole game. That was definitely for Jazz."
The game was tough for the entire team, Edsall said. Moore even admitted to tearing up at multiple times throughout the contest.
The game was made easier by the supportive West Virginia crowd. When the team first took the field before the game, the crowd arose to its feet to applaud the Huskies while the Mountaineer Maniacs presented the team with a banner signed by WVU students and fans.
The coach even received a special message from former Mountaineer defensive back Aaron Beasley who Edsall coached with the Jacksonville Jaguars and was in attendance Saturday.
"I've come down to West Virginia when I was at Syracuse and Boston College and even here in Connecticut," Edsall said. "I know what type of fans they have and how they root so hard for their team.
"But the sportsmanship and the love and the concern that they showed for our team, I don't know if you've ever seen that in sports. It was very humbling."
While the team overcame its first obstacle Saturday in its first game without its standout cornerback, its toughest task is still to come. The team flew from Morgantown to Miami where it will attend Howard's funeral, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. today.
"Just to see him for the last time and to see his family," Moore began. "It's going to be tough."