Huskies Top Owls, 45-31

It was homecoming weekend for the favored Connecticut football team. The Huskies were facing a 1-6 Temple squad playing in their last season as a member of the Big East Football Conference. Connecticut (5-2, 2-2), in their first BE season, did secure a 45-31 win over the Owls (1-7, 0-3) but it wasn't easy.

UConn started according to the script, taking a 21-0 first quarter lead which extended to 28 twice, the latest with 6:09 left in the game. But Temple, led by senior quarterback Walter Washington, doesn't know when a game is over.

The Owls outscored UConn 21-7 in the final 18 1/2 minutes to tighten the score to 45-31, much closer than most UConn fans, coaches and players expected at the end of the third period. The Owls four-to-one turnover edge and a recovered onside kick kept them in this game.

UConn's running game again was very powerful led by sophomore Cornell Brockington with 181 yards on 15 carries (12.1 ypc) and two scores. Fifth-year senior Chris Bellamy relieved Brockington in the fourth quarter as UConn went to a ball-control offense. He carried the ball 17 times for 76 yards, scoring his first touchdown of the season.

Orlovsky now holds UConn TD record

Connecticut's offensive leader, QB Dan Orlovsky, completed 18-of-29 passes to nine different receivers for 260 yards and two touchdowns. One pass was intercepted. The dependable senior became Connecticut's all-time leader in career touchdown passes.

Junior wide receiver Jason Williams led the receiving corps with five catches for a career-high 138 yards, including a 90-yard touchdown.

True senior linebackers Maurice Lloyd and Alfred Fincher led the Husky defense with 16 and 13 tackles, respectively. Lloyd also had three pass break-ups. Sophomore Shawn Mayne had a game-best two sacks.

The first play of the game could have told the whole game story; but Temple to was going rewrite act three.

True freshman tailback Larry Taylor returned Ryan Lux' opening kickoff 97 yards for his first touchdown as a college player. Less than four minutes later, Orlovsky, who this week was named a Unitas Award Finalist, hit Williams on that 90-yard play.

It was just 11:04 of the first quarter and Temple coach Bobby Wallace was already trailing 14-0. His Owls got their first break of the day when Taylor's fumble of a TU punt was recovered by Bobby Fulmore on the Huskies' 35 yard line. UConn's defense answered on Temple's third play when sophomore Ernest Cole intercepted Washington at the 17 yard line.

Again UConn opened the door for Temple. The Owls recovered Brockington's fumble at the 50 yard line. And again the Husky defense answered, sacking Washington at the TU 39 on a fourth-and-six play.

Brockington more than redeemed himself with a 61-yard touchdown run through the middle of Temple's defense. The score was now 21-0 with 3:45 to play in the opening period.

Sophomore Matt Nuzie broke a scoreless second quarter with a 32-yard field goal, his eighth in a row which is one shy of the school record set by David DeArmas in 1994. Nuzie was also six-for-six on extra point attempts.

Washington's five-yard run got the Owls on the scoreboard with 1:08 left in the half and the score 24-7.

That was more than enough time for a 67-yard UConn scoring drive, 53 of those on a Brockington draw. Orlovsky hit senior walk-on Brian Sparks for a nine-yard TD giving Connecticut a 31-7 lead with 29 seconds to go.

Temple took the second half kickoff 76 yards, setting up Lux' 19 yard field goal and cutting the deficit to 31-10 with 7:51 left in the third quarter.

Coach Randy Edsall put the ball in Brockington's capable hands for 34 yards on UConn's next drive (50 yards). The Burlington, N.J. native scampered three yards for his second TD of the day and sixth this season. The Huskies now led, 38-10, with 3:25 remaining in the third.

Washington completed a 42-yard drive, started at the end of the third period, with a four yard run to reduce the edge to 38-17 with 14:53 on the clock.

Bellamy took over for Brockington and scored his first touchdown of the season on a five-yard rush over left tackle. Bellamy carried the ball 10 times for 43 yards in this 14-play, 77-yard drive that restored UC's lead to 28 points (45-17) with 6:09 to play. Washington engineered a 63-yard drive, hitting Ikey Chuku on a 24-yard scoring pass two minutes later that cut the score to 45-24.

Temple made their next break, recovering an onside kick at UConn's 48. Washington took just 1:18 minutes on this drive, completing a six-yard TD pass to Phil Goodman. The score was now 45-31 with 2:51 left.

The Owls, with two times out remaining, again tried an onside kick but this time the Huskies smothered the ball on the Owls' 46 yard line. UConn's running game did its job. Bellamy rushed for two first downs to run out the clock and give UConn its second Big East win.

Washington led the Owls, hitting on 21-of-44 pass attempts for 276 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Washington also was the Owls' leading rusher, gaining 106 yards. His net rushing is 84 yards since the Dodge City Community College transfer was sacked three times for losses of 22 yards. Buche Ibeh and Goodman each caught four passes with Ibeh gaining 72 yards. Rian "Goo" Wallace's nine tackles led the Owls on the other side of the ball.

UConn next takes on Syracuse (3-4, 1-1) in the Carrier Dome on Saturday, Oct.30th at 1:30 p.m. The Orange lost to nationally-ranked West Virginia, 27-6, this past Thursday. Temple's road doesn't get any easier as the Owls head to Morgantown, W.V. in a Saturday, Nov. 6 contest with the Mountaineers (6-0, 2-1).

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