Big East Roundup

Wrapping up last week's conference action, and looking forward to the coming weekend in the Big East conference.

BOSTON COLLEGE
Senior Paul Peterson threw for a career-best 367 yards, but his performance was lost in the Eagles' 20-17 overtime defeat at Pittsburgh.

Peterson capped a 10-play, 89-yard scoring drive late in the fourth quarter with a 10-yard pass to receiver Larry Lester, tying the score 17-17. Boston College then won the overtime coin toss and elected to play defense first.

After his teammates held Pittsburgh to a field goal, Peterson completed a third-and-10 pass to Lester. But when Lester stretched for the first down, the ball was jarred loose and recovered by Pittsburgh's Thomas Smith.

Boston College, which dropped its first Big East game of the season, will face Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., on Saturday. The Eagles edged the Irish 27-25 in last season's meeting. Then, following a bye week, Boston College will try to regain a foothold in the Big East standings when it hosts Rutgers on Nov. 6. The Eagles are one of four conference teams that share a 4-2 record.

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Paul Peterson -- The senior completed 32 of 53 passes for a career-high 367 yards in the 20-17 loss to Pittsburgh. Peterson delivered touchdown passes to receivers Larry Lester and Joel Hazard. Despite throwing the ball 53 times, he wasn't intercepted.

KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Grant Adams -- Boston College's leading returning receiver is at it again. Adams reeled in 12 passes for a game-high 164 yards against Pittsburgh. Adams also blocked a punt in the loss.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was too close to call. It was close either way you look at it. I just have to live with the call that was called. It's unfortunate, but it's just the way things fall into place." -- Boston College WR Larry Lester to the Boston Globe, on whether or not his game-deciding fumble should've been ruled an incompletion.

LOOKING GOOD: When the Eagles' run game fell apart, QB Paul Peterson had the passing attack firing. The senior threw for a career-high 367 yards and two touchdowns in defeat.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Boston College's previously impressive running attack produced just 56 yards in the loss at Pittsburgh. RB L.V. Whitworth led Boston College with 39 yards on 18 carries. The Eagles owned the Big East's second-ranked rushing offense entering the weekend.

ROSTER REPORT: RB Andre Callender is still recovering from a groin injury suffered against Wake Forest (Sept. 25). He practiced last week, but has missed two games.

CONNECTICUT
It was quite possibly the biggest game in Huskies football history.

Seventeenth-ranked West Virginia entered Rentschler Field last Wednesday night for its first league contest of the season. Connecticut, which is looking to secure a bowl bid in its first Big East season, had a chance to turn a few heads.

The Mountaineers, however, proved too strong. West Virginia quarterback Rasheed Marshall ran for 110 yards and threw for 138 more in a convincing 31-19 victory. The game marked the first meeting between the schools.

The Huskies trailed 10-6 at halftime but wouldn't get any closer. Senior quarterback Dan Orlovsky completed 24 of 47 passes for 268 yards and threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns, but he was intercepted three times.

Sophomore tailback Cornell Brockington added 90 rushing yards on 23 carries, but was kept out of the end zone.

Connecticut (4-2) will play its final Big East home game on Saturday, when it hosts Temple (1-6) in East Hartford.

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Dan Orlovsky -- The senior completed 24 of 47 passes for 268 yards and was intercepted three times. He did, however, throw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, which tied him for first place on Connecticut's all-time list.

KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Cornell Brockington -- The sophomore rushed for 90 yards on 23 carries and added 22 receiving yards.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It wasn't like their defense confused us that much. We missed some protection sometimes, where a guy went the wrong way here, didn't pay attention to our rules there and forced us to throw the ball late a few more times than we would've liked. They didn't do anything we hadn't practiced for this week." -- QB Dan Orlovsky, on Connecticut's offensive struggles against West Virginia.

LOOKING GOOD: PK Matt Nuzie continues to improve. After struggling earlier in the season, Nuzie tied a school record by drilling seven consecutive field goals. He connected from 21 and 35 yards in the loss to West Virginia.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: The Huskies' four turnovers -- three interceptions, one fumble -- essentially cost them the game. QB Dan Orlovsky was picked three times, but give credit to West Virginia's defense. Connecticut is usually anything but sloppy on the offensive end.

ROSTER REPORT: DE Tyler King broke his right leg against two weeks ago and is expected to be out at least another month.

PITTSBURGH
Junior quarterback Tyler Palko threw for 131 yards and ran for a touchdown as the Panthers recorded their most significant victory of the season, a 20-17 overtime decision against Boston College.

Pittsburgh improved to 4-2 and will host Rutgers (4-2) on Saturday in the Big East Game of the Week (noon).

Place-kicker Josh Cumming drilled a 27-yard field goal in the extra session for what proved to be the winning points in Pittsburgh's second consecutive victory. On the Eagles' overtime possession, Lester fumbled while stretching for a first down. Thomas Smith recovered for the Panthers to end the game.

Pittsburgh's formerly anemic rushing attack finally established some credibility. The Panthers rushed for 177 yards, led by tailback Raymond Kirkley (21 carries for 88 yards, 1 TD).

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Tyler Palko -- For the second straight game, the junior didn't throw an interception. Palko completed 12 of 27 passes for 131 yards. He also rushed for 55 yards and a 3-yard touchdown.

KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Raymond Kirkley -- One week after rushing for 86 yards and a game-winning touchdown against Temple, the senior managed 88 yards and a 2-yard touchdown on 21 carries in the win over Boston College.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He has a bit of hard-headness. He really should avoid the guy, give him a little dip and head back inside. But I guarantee there was some excitement on that sideline and in the stands after that play." -- Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris, to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, regarding a hit QB Tyler Palko delivered to Boston College CB Pete Shean on a third-quarter scramble.

LOOKING GOOD: At long last the Panthers' running game delivered; and it was no coincidence they secured the biggest win of the season. RB Raymond Kirkley's 88-yard performance sparked a 177-yard rushing total.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Boston College rolled up 367 passing yards. Where exactly was Pittsburgh's secondary? Eagles quarterback Paul Peterson delivered touchdown passes to receivers Larry Lester and Joel Hazard.

ROSTER REPORT: LT Rob Petitti (concussion), Pittsburgh's lone returning starter on offense, returned to the field after a one-game absence.. Defensive end Kyle Smith, offensive lineman Neal Tracey and fullbacks Tim Murphy and Justin Acierno did not dress due to injury.

RUTGERS
Hard to believe, but the Scarlet Knights are just two wins away from bowl eligibility. Rutgers hasn't made a postseason appearance since the 1978 Garden State Bowl, its first and only.

Rutgers improved to 4-2 on Saturday, despite struggling on offense. The Scarlet Knights amassed a season-low 283 yards and scored just one touchdown in beating Temple 16-6 at Rutgers Stadium.

The Scarlet Knights took advantage of two Temple turnovers in the fourth quarter and produced 10 points. Quarterback Ryan Hart, who was trying to become the first player in school history to throw for 300 yards in three consecutive games, completed 18 of 30 passes for 193 yards and was intercepted three times.

"To be honest, I was a little bit surprised myself," Owls coach Bobby Wallace said. "We didn't do anything differently besides try to take away the fullback in the flat."

Redshirt sophomore fullback Brian Leonard rushed for 80 yards on 19 carries and caught two passes for an additional 55 yards. Senior wide receiver Tres Moses reeled in nine receptions for 98 yards.

The Scarlet Knights will travel to Pittsburgh (4-2) next Saturday.

GAME BALL GOES TO: WR Tres Moses -- The senior tri-captain reeled in nine receptions for 98 yards in Rutgers' 16-6 victory over Temple on Saturday. Moses managed 147 and 109 receiving yards in the Scarlet Knights' two previous games against Syracuse and Vanderbilt. He has caught at least one pass in 17 consecutive games.

KEEP AN EYE ON: FS Ron Girault -- In his first career start, the true freshman recorded a team-high 13 tackles and intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter. The interception eventually resulted in three points and a 9-6 Rutgers lead.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I thought we would've gone out there and kicked their butts, but it came down to special teams. We ended up winning the battle, I guess." -- Rutgers PK Jeremy Ito, who kicked three field goals in the win over Temple.

LOOKING GOOD: Rutgers' beleaguered defense, which was ranked 80th nationally entering the game, actually made strides against Temple. The Owls managed 360 yards of total offense, but were held to just six points. The Scarlet Knights forced four turnovers.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: As FB Brian Leonard (thigh) continues to play at less than 100 percent, Rutgers' run game has struggled. Leonard led the team with 80 yards on 19 carries on Saturday, but the Scarlet Knights delivered just 90 rushing yards overall.

ROSTER REPORT: OT Sameeh McDonald (knee), WR Shawn Tucker (groin), LB Berkeley Hutchinson (shoulder) and OT Jeremy Zuttah (knee) didn't play against Temple. OT Cameron Stephenson also sustained a high ankle sprain. All have started games this season. ... Stephenson and defensive backs Ron Girault and Manny Collins made their first career starts on Saturday.

SYRACUSE
The Orange will continue a brutal schedule when they play at No. 15 West Virginia on Saturday. Syracuse is coming off a 17-13 loss to Florida State on Oct. 2, which preceded a bye week.

The Mountaineers (5-1) should be the fourth and final ranked opponent Syracuse will face this season. West Virginia is the only Big East team included in the Associated Press Top 25 and the Orange have only conference games remaining on their schedule.

After losing 51-0 to Purdue on Sept. 5, Syracuse consistently improved against ranked opponents. The Orange dropped a 31-10 decision at Virginia, then fell just short against Florida State.

"We're pleased from where we started, on Sept. 5," coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "The kids have hung in there. I think we've gotten better and that's satisfying. But we're not satisfied with 3-3."

Syracuse actually had a chance to beat Florida State in the game's final minute, but quarterback Perry Patterson's pass was intercepted in the end zone with five seconds remaining. Patterson completed 19 of 28 passes for a career-high 207 yards and a touchdown.

If tailbacks Walter Reyes (92.7 ypg.) and Damien Rhodes (50.2 ypg.) continue to bowl over opponents, Syracuse could make a surprise run at the Big East title. The Orange are 1-0 in league play.

KEEP AN EYE ON: SS Diamond Ferri -- The 5-10, 218-pound junior was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Week after he recorded six solo tackles, forced a fumble and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown in a 17-13 loss to Florida State on Oct. 9.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We just weren't able to connect. We needed one more big play, one more thing to happen. But we came up short." -- Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, on his team's bid to upset then-No. 8 Florida State.

LOOKING GOOD: Syracuse owns the Big East's third-ranked rushing offense at 160.7 yards per game. Tailbacks Walter Reyes (92.7 ypg., 4 TDs) and Damien Rhodes (50.2 ypg., 4 TDs) are two of the best in the league, if not the country.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Syracuse must improve its third-down consistency. The Orange converted just 2 of 13 opportunities in a 17-13 loss to Florida State on Oct. 9. Syracuse is ranked last in the league in third-down conversion percentage (21 of 80).

ROSTER REPORT: WR Steve Gregory has missed four games with a thigh injury and is questionable for the West Virginia game. CB DeAndre LaCaille (hamstring) is also questionable. LB Kellen Pruitt, who missed two games after undergoing knee surgery, should be available this weekend.

TEMPLE
For the second straight week, the Owls found themselves in position to win a Big East game in the waning minutes. Temple trailed 9-6 with 5:23 remaining, but couldn't locate the end zone in a 16-6 loss at Rutgers.

The Owls dropped to 1-6 on the year. Their only victory came against I-AA representative Florida A&M.

Junior quarterback Walter Washington has proven week in and week out that he is Temple's only legitimate offensive option. The team's running game is nonexistent and the receiving corps has been unimpressive.

Washington completed 21 of 39 passes for 219 yards and was intercepted twice on Saturday. He added 67 rushing yards on 27 carries, but failed to produce a touchdown in Temple's fourth straight loss.

Placekicker Ryan Lux connected on field goals from 37 and 38 yards, but missed attempts from 30 and 32.

The Owls have dropped 10 straight Big East games, but the misery won't last very long. Temple is completing its final season as a conference member and will play an independent schedule in 2005.

Temple will host Connecticut (4-2) this Saturday.

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Walter Washington -- A week after throwing for a career-high 314 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to Pittsburgh, Washington completed 21 of 39 passes for 219 yards and was intercepted twice in the Rutgers game. He added 67 rushing yards on 27 carries.

KEEP AN EYE ON: CB Jermaine Hargraves -- The junior recovered a fumble, intercepted a Ryan Hart pass and returned it 14 yards in defeat. He also recorded four tackles.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "This game was a lot different than I anticipated. Both defenses really came to play. We missed a couple of field goals that ended up hurting us, but I thought we played hard and gave ourselves a chance late into the fourth quarter." -- Temple coach Bobby Wallace, on the expected shootout that turned out to be an offensive pillow fight.

LOOKING GOOD: If not for Rutgers' game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter, Temple's defense would've earned high marks. The Owls limited the Scarlet Knights to 283 yards and forced five turnovers. Temple's scoring defense was ranked 116th out of 117 Division I-A teams heading into the game, and jumped to 104th (36.3 ppg) afterward.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Another offensive option besides QB Walter Washington must emerge for Temple to succeed. As the opposition learns to keep Washington in check, the Owls' offense will continue to decline.

ROSTER REPORT: DL Antwon Burton (foot) didn't play against Rutgers and is sidelined indefinitely. LB Rian Wallace returned from a one-game suspension for his involvement in a locker room skirmish.


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