7:15 PM ET, November 3, 2007
Rentschler Field, EAST HARTFORD, CT
STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Donald Brown hadn't been a big part of Connecticut's big season, until Saturday.
The sophomore tailback came off the bench to run for 154 yards and a touchdown, leading UConn over Rutgers 38-19 and giving the Huskies an 8-1 record for the first time.
Brown, who had been averaging about 52 yards a game for the Huskies (No. 13 BCS, No. 16 AP) and lost his starting job to the faster Andre Dixon, had a 33-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and a 70-yard run to set up a fourth-quarter field goal that helped put the game out of reach. He carried the ball 24 times, 22 in the second half when UConn (8-1, 4-0 Big East) took control of the clock.
"Earlier in the season, I feel I was pressing a lot, I was trying to hit the home run too much," Brown said. "I just had to be who I am and not someone I'm not."
Dixon rushed 10 times for 35 yards, a week after carrying the ball 32 times for 167 yards in a win over South Florida.
"We went with the hot hand," UConn coach Randy Edsall said. "It was good because he's been a lot fresher than Andre, so it was good for him to go in there and see him do that. We're going to need both of them."
Brown's performance came a year after he made his college debut against Rutgers, rushing for 199 yards in a 24-13 loss. The Huskies went 4-8 that season and were picked to finish seventh in the eight-team Big East this year.
Instead, at 4-0 they are the only undefeated team in the conference, ahead of 2-1 West Virginia. The Huskies, who moved into the rankings for the first time in their 109-year history this week, and are also 6-0 at home for the first time.
Tyler Lorenzen threw for 140 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 67 yards, and the Huskies' special teams accounted for nine points, with a safety and a 97-yard kickoff return by Tyvon Branch.
Jeremy Ito had four field goals for Rutgers (5-4, 1-3), but missed a key 34-yarder in the third quarter that would have cut UConn's lead to 10 points. Ray Rice ran 21 times for 116 yards and a touchdown but 97 of those came in the first half. Mike Teel was 32-of-52 for 343 yards and an interception. Kenny Britt caught seven of those passes for 101 yards.
"There's a fine line between winning and losing," Rice said. "Right now, it's tough to tell where we're at. I guess we just have to go back home and look forward to these next three games."
The Huskies came into the game ranked 10th nationally in total defense, giving up just over 293 yards. Rutgers rolled up 511 yards in this one, including 307 yards in the first half, when they held the ball for over 20 minutes. However, the Scarlet Knights had drives of 72, 74 and 69 yards result in field goals instead of touchdowns.
UConn led 25-16 at intermission despite running just 19 plays to Rutgers' 51.
"We just had to bow up," UConn defensive tackle Dan Davis said. "One thing we pride ourselves on is red-zone defense, and all year we've been pretty good at that. We bend and give up some yardage, but stop them in the red zone."
Quarterback-turned-receiver D.J. Hernandez got the Huskies on the scoreboard first by blocking a punt through the end zone after the Scarlet Knights' first drive.
The Huskies took the free kick and scored in eight plays on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Lorenzen to tight end Steve Brouse, the sixth time this season the Huskies have scored on their opening drive.
Lorenzen also connected with Terence Jeffers on a 34-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline.
A 29-yard field goal by Ito capped a 7 minute, 15-play drive and made the score 18-6 in the second quarter. But 15 seconds later, it was 25-6.
UConn's Branch took the kickoff on the 3, cut left, deked defensive back Joe Lefeged and sprinted down the left side for 97 yard and his second return for a touchdown this season.
"Momentum is a funny thing," Branch said. "Everybody's been talking about me not having juke moves, so I had to show them something."
The Huskies had 228 yards in kick and punt return yardage.
UConn's Tony Ciaravino missed an extra point in the first half, but also kicked three field goals, giving him 19 for the season.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Tyvon Branch returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown midway through the second quarter. The score swung the momentum back in the Huskies' favor and gave them a 25-6 lead.
Gameball goes to... Donald Brown. UConn's powerful redshirt sophomore back gave QB Tyler Lorenzen room to operate, carrying the ball 24 times for a season-high 155 yards and one touchdown.
Stat of the game... 167. After giving up 251 yards on the ground to South Florida, UConn held Rutgers to just 167 and Ray Rice to just 116 and one TD. The bad news: The Huskies gave up 343 in the air.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-15||4-12|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||0-0|
|SF||13:55||Ball Through End Zone||0||2|
|TD||10:11||Steve Brouse 2 Yd Pass From Tyler Lorenzen (Pat Failed) |
Drive: 8 plays, 53 yds, 3:39
|FG||06:59||Jeremy Ito 30 Yd |
Drive: 8 plays, 72 yds, 3:06
|FG||04:52||Tony Ciaravino 43 Yd |
Drive: 6 plays, 21 yds, 1:58
|TD||01:18||Terence Jeffers 34 Yd Pass From Tyler Lorenzen (Tony Ciaravino Kick) |
Drive: 3 plays, 54 yds, 1:07
|FG||09:14||Jeremy Ito 28 Yd |
Drive: 15 plays, 83 yds, 6:58
|TD||08:59||Tyvon Branch 97 Yd Kickoff Return (Tony Ciaravino Kick)||6||25|
|TD||04:24||Ray Rice 4 Yd Run (Jeremy Ito Kick) |
Drive: 11 plays, 70 yds, 4:28
|FG||00:00||Jeremy Ito 28 Yd |
Drive: 14 plays, 69 yds, 2:18
|FG||08:52||Jeremy Ito 27 Yd |
Drive: 6 plays, 20 yds, 2:16
|TD||06:02||Donald Brown 33 Yd Run (Tony Ciaravino Kick) |
Drive: 7 plays, 75 yds, 2:44
|FG||14:14||Tony Ciaravino 30 Yd |
Drive: 11 plays, 67 yds, 4:33
|FG||10:16||Tony Ciaravino 26 Yd |
Drive: 6 plays, 75 yds, 2:22