Huskies Run Over Rutgers

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. – Former University of Connecticut linebacker Alfred Fincher wanted to speak with members of the team this week. Fincher, who plays for the New Orleans Saints, has watched this year's Huskies closely. He was one of the pillars to the UConn program, and he videotaped a pregame message to the team that inspired the team to makes its own tradition.

The No. 16 ranked Huskies took Fincher's pregame speech to heart, and didn't let their first national ranking go to its head.

Thanks to resurgent running back Donald Brown and the special teams play, the Huskies just completed a home stand that few fans of the program will ever forget.

Brown rushed for 154 yards and Huskies piled up 256 yards rushing and scored nine points on special teams as it blasted Rutgers 38-19 before 40,000 fans at Rentschler Field.

UConn moved to 8-1 on the season and 4-0 in the Big East heading into next Saturday's game at Cincinnati.

The Huskies went 3-0 in their critical three game homestand defeating Louisville, South Florida and Rutgers in the best stretch in school history.

"It's three quality and outstanding wins," UConn coach Randy Edsall said. "We had a lot of help from our fans…that's the conference; you just line up and play."

"They expected to win. It was very business-like and it's a great group of guys to be around."

Brown led the way with 154 yards including a 33-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Brown was benched in favor of Andre Dixon two weeks ago, but Edsall went with the hot hand in the second half. Brown showed the burst and tackle breaking ability that he first showed against Rutgers last year, when he ripped them for 199 yards.

For Brown, the resurgence was a long time coming.

"Personally, this is a big confidence booster," Brown said. "This is the most confidence I have had (since last year)."

Edsall was happy with the play of the redshirt sophomore from Atlantic Highlands, N.J.

"I am very happy for him, that goes to show you what kind of young man he is," Edsall said. "I'm sure he was disappointed he hadn't been able to do some of the things that he had to do, but we always knew he would come back."

The Huskies stunned the Scarlet Knights in the first half on special teams. D.J. Hernandez came free on a blocked punt on the game's first drive and the ball rolled out of the endzone for a safety less than two minutes into the game. After the ensuing free kick the Huskies took an 8-0 lead when Tyler Lorenzen found Steve Brouse for a 2-yard touchdown pass.

That series of plays put Rutgers in a tailspin on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights collapsed on special teams as its first four drives started at the 15, 15, 3 and 6-yard lines.

Rutgers Jeremy Ito put the Scarlet Knights on the board with the first of his five field goals and Tony Ciaravino answered with his own field goal. The Huskies took an 18-3 lead at the end of the first quarter on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Lorenzen to Terrence Jeffers.

Ito cut the lead with 28-yard field goal that completed a 15-play drive that lasted 7:04. It lasted all of 15 seconds.

UConn's Tyvon Branch took the ensuing kickoff 97 yard for a touchdown for a commanding 25-6 lead. It was a devastating half for the Scarlet Knights (5-4, 1-3) on special teams.

"I don't know if we could have played any worse at the beginning of the game with our special teams," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "Missed tackles, certainly fielding the football, the blocked punt – these are not sophisticated things."

Rutgers got its offense in gear in the second quarter and had 307 yards offense in the second quarter. Ray Rice had a 4-yard touchdown run and Ito ended the half with a 27-yard field goal to cut the lead to 25-16.

The Huskies ran only three plays in the second quarter, and on their first two drives in the second half they only ran six plays. The defense was exhausted and Ito's fourth field goal early in the third quarter cut the lead to 25-19.

UConn needed a shakeup, and Edsall went to Brown.

Brown's first carry went for eight yards and Lorenzen had key passes to Terrence Jeffers (9 yards) and a 27-yard strike to Brouse. Then the Huskies offense stalled. Brown lost three yards on a run, and a second down pass went out of bounds. The Huskies were third and 13 on the 33 when Brown showed everyone why he was an All-Big East player a year ago.

Brown took a handoff, designed just to get a couple of yards for a field goal, and ran untouched up the gap for a 33-yard touchdown, that essentially put Rutgers away.

"The offensive line did everything," Brown said. "It parted like the red sea."

Brown added a 70-yard run later that helped set up a field goal. The Huskies were on their way.

The defense allowed 511 yards of offense, but held Rutgers to only one touchdown and five Ito field goals. Rice had 116 yards rushing and a touchdown while Mike Teel passed for 343 yards.

Lorenzen had 140 yards passing and two touchdowns while he added 67 yards rushing. The Huskies piled up 256 yards rushing against Rutgers and had 386 yards of total offense. Branch added a school record 184 return yards.

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