UConn Mauls the Panthers

PITTSBURGH – Maybe these Huskies are pretty good. The UConn football team is 4-0 for the first time in its Division I-A, or Football Bowl Subdivision history and they did so in dominating fashion. UConn forced six turnovers and scored 24 straight points at one point as it defeated Pittsburgh 34-14 in a Big East Conference game before over 40,000 fans at Heinz Field on Saturday.

The Huskies, nine point underdogs coming in, turned a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter into a 27-7 halftime lead as it played perhaps its best half of football under head coach Randy Edsall.

 

"It was a great team victory today to go on the road and get a Big East win," Edsall said. "We came out and played as good a half as we have since I have been here. Defensively we came up with six turnovers and a score. I am proud of our kids and we just have to stay hungry. "

 

The Huskies scored first on a one-yard touchdown run from Lou Allen on its first possession that was set up by linebacker Danny Lansanah's interception off Kevan Smith on the opening drive. The Huskies extended the lead to 10-0 in the first quarter on a 26-yard field goal from Tony Ciaravino.

 

Then Pittsburgh had its best series of the night. LeSean McCoy, lining up taking a direct snap in the Wildcat offense, had an 18-yard pass play and also kept the ball three consecutive with gains of 24, 1 and then a 19-yard touchdown.

 

It was 10-7 and Pitt was starting to gain its footing. Then UConn quarterback Tyler Lorenzen took over.

 

Lorenzen was sacked for a 14-yard loss on the first play of the drive before he got in rhythm hitting D.J. Hernandez for a 29-yard game and a first down. That started the Huskies rolling. The Huskies finished off the 60-yard on a four yard touchdown run from Donald Brown.

 

The Huskies tightened up on defense forcing a three and out and Lorenzen got back to work. He completed passes of 24 and 22 yards to Terrence Jeffers and Larry Taylor to highlight a 9-play 69 yard drive that finished with Allen's second touchdown run of the day.    

 

Lorenzen was 7-of-7 for 116 yards on those two drives as the Huskies took a 24-7 lead. Answering the Panthers touchdown with 14 straight points is the exact thing Edsall was looking for.  The team was clicking on all cylinders.

 

The players took it upon themselves," Edsall said. "When they came in last Sunday you could see the difference. If you are going to turn it around it has to come from the players."

 

Pitt tried to get something started late in the half, but all that caused was more misery. With less than a minute to go in the half Julius Williams sacked Smith and forced a fumble with Lawrence Wilson recovering at the Panthers' 30-yard line. Ciaravino capped the half with a 39-yard field goal as time expired.

 

Lorenzen's line isn't eye opening, but he made all the plays he needed and managed the game almost flawlessly.  He was 10-of-14 for 149 yards in the opening half.

 

"He was on fire (in the second quarter)," Edsall said. "Overall he did a job, he didn't turn it over, he is very careful with the ball. If you can go into a game and not turn it over and get 6, you got a pretty good chance to win."

 

The Huskies put the game away early in the fourth quarter. Cody Brown tipped a pass on the line and Wilson picked off returning it 51 yards for a touchdown. It was 34-7, and the rout was one. The Panthers fans hit the exits, and the Huskies were on their way to their fourth straight win.

 

The Huskies shutdown the Panthers' running game holding freshmen McCoy to 70 yards. The Huskies defense was gashed for 189 yards against Temple, but held Pittsburgh to 91 yards total. The key was getting ahead early and forcing Pittsburgh into the passing game. The Panthers started redshirt freshman Kevan Smith and he struggled in the first half going 3-of-9 passing with one interception. He was pulled in favor of Pat Bostick for the second half and UConn leading 27-7. Bostick finished with 226 yards passing, but most of that was in the fourth quarter during garbage time.

 

UConn is 4-0 for the first time since 1997 and if it wins against Akron next week will be 5-0 for the first time since 1995.

 

"Every game is the same. If we start treating games different – we are not good enough." Edsall said. "We have to come in focused and concentrating on what we are doing, play as hard as we can and execute to be successful. If we do that we have a chance for success."

 

 


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