UConn upsets Rutgers 40-22, keeps bowl hopes alive

Rutgers had a chance Saturday to win a share of its first Big

East title, and stay in the hunt for a bid to a BCS bowl game.

But the Scarlet Knights fumbled and threw it away, committing

six turnovers in a 40-22 loss to Connecticut.

”It feels like I got punched in the stomach 50 times,” said

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano.

Running back Lyle McCombs and quarterback Scott McCummings each

ran for two touchdowns for UConn and Nick Williams had 158 return

yards, setting up the Huskies in good field position all

afternoon.

Defensive tackle Kendall Reyes returned a Chas Dodd fumble for a

touchdown as the Huskies forced six Rutgers turnovers.

”You can’t win when you turn the ball over that many times and

we proved it here,” Dodd said.

Brandon Coleman had 223 receiving yards and two touchdowns for

Rutgers (8-4, 4-3 Big East). Mohammad Sanu caught nine balls for

133 yards, extending his conference record to 109 receptions this

season.

The Scarlet Knights were trying to become the first team in

league history to go from worst to first in consecutive seasons.

The eight-win season likely will mean a trip to the Pinstripe

Bowl.

”It hurts,” said Rutgers defensive back David Rowe. ”It’s my

last time playing for a Big East championship. We were at the

finish line and just didn’t cross it.”

The Huskies held Rutgers to 26 yards rushing and had six sacks,

four by defensive end Trevardo Williams.

”We made a promise to ourselves as a team to stop the run game

first, and take care of the rest after,” Williams said.

UConn had just 290 offensive yards, but started five drives in

Rutgers’ territory and two others near midfield. McCombs carried

the ball 20 times for 95 yards. He now has 1,109 on the season, the

fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season for a Huskies running

back.

UConn (5-6, 3-3) can become bowl eligible with a win at

Cincinnati next Saturday.

Rutgers freshman Gary Nova threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns

to Brandon Coleman. His 17-yarder made it 40-16 and the pair hooked

up on a 92-yard catch and run with 2:15 left in the game. The

two-point conversion attempts failed.

Nova completed 11 of 18 passes for 298 yards, all in the fourth

quarter in relief of Dodd. He was 11 of 22 for 141 yards, but he

fumbled and was intercepted, and both turnovers turned into UConn

touchdowns.

Williams had three kickoff returns for 128 yards, and a 30-yard

punt return. He returned the second-half kickoff 54 yards and

McCombs took a handoff on the next play and ran right for 36 yards.

His 4-yard run up the middle two plays later gave the Huskies a

31-10 lead.

”Anytime you come out of the locker room and make a big play,

it send a message to their sideline and your sideline,” Williams

said.

Williams’ long punt return set up UConn’s next touchdown, a

14-yard option keeper by McCummings that put the Huskies up 37-10.

The extra point was blocked, giving Dave Teggart his first miss in

128 point-after attempts.

But Teggart came back to hit a 47-yard field goal after UConn

ate up almost six minutes of the clock on its next possession,

aided by a roughing the punter call on Rutgers.

Connecticut turned two early Rutgers turnovers into

touchdowns.

UConn linebacker Sio Moore forced a fumble by Jawan Jamison on

the third play of the game, giving the Huskies the ball on the

Scarlet Knights’ 24-yard line. UConn then handed the ball off twice

to McCombs, who ran for 14 yards one first down and then went into

the end zone from 10 yards out to give the Huskies a 7-0 lead.

Safety Ty-Meer Brown intercepted a pass tipped by Byron Jones on

Rutgers’ next drive, giving UConn the ball at the 40. McCummings

ran the ball in from the 5-yard line, making a nice spin move after

keeping the ball on an option play.

The Scarlet Knights put together a 13-play, 5 minute drive, but

had to settle for a 25-yard San San Te field goal that cut the lead

to 14-3.

A second-quarter UConn punt pinned Rutgers at its own 1-yard

line. Dodd fumbled five plays later and the ball was picked up by

defensive tackle Kendall Reyes, who rumbled 9 yards for the Huskies

third score and UConn’s third fumble return for a TD this

season.

”It was big,” Reyes said. ”It was basically just sitting

right there and I was the closest guy to it, so I just picked it up

and the end zone was just a couple of yards away.”

Coleman out-jumped cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson for a 45-yard

reception during a seven-play, 80-yard drive, which ended with a

1-yard touchdown run by Jamison with just over four minutes left in

the half.

But UConn took the kickoff and drove 11 plays over the final

4:04 of the half. Teggart’s 33-yard field goal gave the Huskies a

24-10 halftime lead.

McCummings ran 10 times for 47 yards and attempted just one pass

for UConn, a 22-yard, one-handed completion to tight end Ryan

Griffin in the second half. UConn starter Johnny McEntee was 10 of

16 for 90 yards.

UConn’s loss to Louisville last week took the Huskies out of the

Big East championship picture. But the Huskies are still hoping for

a .500 season and a bowl bid.

Rutgers had taken five of the last six games between the two

teams, including the last three by a total of nine points.