- Junior tailback Donald Brown
(Atlantic Highlands, N.J.) scored on a three-yard run with 6:04 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Connecticut defense held Baylor on fourth down with less than a minute to play as the Huskies hung on to defeat the Bears, 31-28, Friday evening before a crowd of 38,870 at Rentschler Field.
The Huskies, now 4-0 on the season for the second consecutive year, won for the 10th-straight time at home. The Bears drop to 2-2 on the campaign.
Baylor had taken the lead, at 28-24, for the fourth time in the contest with 11:13 remaining on a 19-yard pass from splendid freshman quarterback Robert Griffin to Kendall Wright. After the Huskies had a three-and-out, junior punter Desi Cullen (Louisville, Ky.) pinned the Bears at their own seven after a 55-yard punt. The Huskies’ Julius Williams (Decatur, Ga.) appeared to have sacked Griffin for a safety, but the officials ruled that Griffin was down at the one. One play later, the Bears punted and the Huskies’ Jasper Howard (Miami, Fla.) fair-caught the punt, but was interfered with on the play by Baylor’s Jake La Mar. The infraction gave the Huskies the ball at the Baylor 29.
Quarterback Tyler Lorenzen (Fremont, Iowa) scrambled for eight yards and then threw a long pass intended for Darius Butler (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), that resulted in a pass interference penalty on Baylor’s Dwain Crawford, and the Huskies had the ball first-and-goal at the nine. Three plays later, Brown ran around right end for his second score of the game to put the Huskies ahead 31-28.
Baylor had one last drive in them. Griffin converted two third downs but the drive stalled at the Connecticut 39 as Griffin could not connect with Wright on two long pass attempts. The Huskies took over on downs and earned the hard-fought win.
Brown continued his sensational play this season by rushing for 150 yards on 34 carries and two touchdowns. Brown, who entered the contest as the nation’s second-leading rusher, now has 716 yards on 113 carries (a 6.3 average) and has scored 10 touchdowns in the Huskies’ four contests. The 10 rushing scores is tied for the ninth-best mark for an entire season at Connecticut, and Brown has at least eight more games to break Walt Trojanowski’s record of 22 set in 1945.
Lorenzen also had another big offensive night throwing for 125 yards and rushing for 73 yards on eight carries. In addition, he scored the second and third rushing touchdowns of his career, including a pretty 34-yard dash around left end for a score late in the third quarter that put the Huskies ahead 24-21.
The Connecticut defense did a solid job containing the elusive Griffin. He finished with 46 yards on 23 carries, most on plays that the Huskies seemed to have him trapped in the backfield for big losses. Griffin also completed 14-of-25 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target was Wright, who snagged six passes for 114 yards and the one touchdown. Justin Akers caught four passes for 61 yards and two touchdowns for the Bears.
Sophomore linebackers Greg Lloyd (Clermont, Fla.) and Scott Lutrus (Brookfield, Conn.) each had 10 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss for the Husky defense.
The Huskies started the contest by picking up right where they left off in last week’s rout of Virginia. They took the opening kickoff and marched downfield before Lorenzen was picked off in the end zone by Joe Pawelek (13 tackles), who ran the ball back to the Baylor 33. Nine plays later, Griffin hit Akers on a 16-yard scoring pass that was ruled incomplete, but the play was overturned and the Bears led 7-0. The Huskies were able to tie the score early in the second quarter when Lorenzen finished a 12-play, 80-yard drive with a seven-yard run.
Griffin and Akers hooked up again on the ensuing possession for Baylor, but the Huskies were able to knot the score before intermission when Brown capped an 11-play, 54-yard drive with by bulling over from the one.
The Huskies took their first lead of the contest in the third quarter on Tony Ciaravino’s (Boca Raton, Fla.) 39-yard field goal. But the lead was short-lived as Griffin scored from the two to put Baylor back ahead, 24-21.
The Huskies will take to the road for a three-game road trip that commences next Friday night, September 26 in Louisville, Ky. The Huskies will open defense of their 2007 league co-championship against BIG EAST foe Louisville. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m., and the contest will be nationally-televised by ESPN2.
- Tonight’s game marked the first ever meeting in the sport of football between Connecticut and Baylor.
- Tonight’s game featured six lead changes and two ties.
- Tonight’s game also marked only UConn’s second game against a member of the Big 12 Conference – the only previous meeting was a 37-20 victory at Iowa State on Nov. 23, 2002.
- Tonight’s game also represented only the second time Connecticut has faced an opponent from the state of Texas in the sport of football – the only previous coming on Sept. 16, 1989 at Southern Methodist University.
- Freshman running back Robbie Frey returned the opening kickoff 49 yards – the longest return of his career.
- Baylor’s 14-yard TD pass from Robert Griffin to Justin Akers marked the first TD the UConn defense has allowed in the first quarter and only the second allowed by the Connecticut defense this season.
- Baylor’s 14-yard TD pass from Robert Griffin to Justin Akers also marked the first receiving TD by an opponent surrendered by the UConn defense this season.
- Baylor’s first touchdown of the game marked the first touchdown an opponent has scored following a Connecticut turnover.
- Junior running back Donald Brown moved past Vinny Clements (1968-70/2,327 yards) into fourth place on the UConn career rushing list with his current total of 2,433.
- UConn quarterback’s Tyler Lorenzen’s two rushing touchdowns marked the most he has ever posted in a single game and increases his career total to three.
- UConn quarterback Tyler Lorenzen’s 34-yard TD rush in the third quarter marked the longest rush of his career.
- Donald Brown’s two rushing touchdowns move him into a tie for fourth place on the UConn career rushing touchdown list at 25 with Cornell Brockington (2003-05) and Walt Trojanowski (1942, 45-46, 1949)
- Donald Brown’s 150 rushing yards marked his fourth consecutive game with 100 yards rushing this season and the 10th of his career.
- Donald Brown’s 34 rushing attempts moved him into eighth place on the UConn career rushing attempt list with his current total of 444.
- Tonight’s 14-14 score at halftime marked the first time UConn has been tied at the half since Nov. 24, 2004 at Rutgers (21-21).
- UConn kicker Tony Ciaravino’s 39-yard marked his longest of the season and his longest since booting a 43-yarder against Rutgers on Nov. 3, 2007.
- Donald Brown’s two touchdowns increased his season total to 10, which is tied for the ninth highest single-season total in UConn history. He is tied with Cornell Brockington (2003), Barry Chandler (1998), Wilbur Gilliard (1992), and Kevin Wesley (1989).
- Donald Brown’s two rushing TDs increase his career total of multi-touchdown games to seven, including three times this season.
- UConn moves to 2-0 all-time against opponents from the Big 12 Conference.
- UConn’s win extends its winning streak at Rentschler Field to 10 straight.
- UConn moves to 10-3 all-time in night games at Rentschler Field.
- UConn has won eight of its last nine non-conference games overall.
- UConn extends its winning streak in the month of September to eight games.
- UConn improves to 4-0 to open the year for the second straight season.
Post Game Quotes
University of Connecticut
“I’m glad that we came away with the win and very proud of the coaches and players for what they contributed. We are 4-0 and can’t be any better than that. We didn’t play as best as we could, but give Baylor some credit, I think they are a good football team and they presented some problems. We had trouble on third downs on defense, and offensively we had opportunities in the redzone that we didn’t take advantage of with the two turnovers. However, I’m pleased that we are 4-0 and that’s the bottom line.”
Can you talk about the defensive last stand at the end of the game?
“I wish we could have gotten the defense off of the field a little bit earlier, but they converted some third down situations. We ended up playing some man coverage at the end, which I thought helped us because we knew they would have to throw the ball instead of run it. The defense dug down and made plays when they needed to. Good teams are going to have to win close games, especially during the regular season and we did that.”
How good is Robert Griffin as a quarterback and as an athlete?
“I was impressed with him. I thought that he had tremendous poise throwing the ball. We got him running around, but we didn’t contain him as much as I would have liked, but that is his athleticism. He is going to be a very good and we are going to have to go down there and play them next year and I’m not looking forward to that.”
One-third of the way through the season, what do you like and what don’t you like about this team?
“I like that we are a team. They pick each other up, they work hard, they give it their all until the very end, and they are resilient. On the other hand, we have to work on a lot of things. Not that it is bad, but we want to strive to be perfect if we can. We have to get better on third down both offensively and defensively. If we can continue to play tough, physical, and with good fundamentals and technique then we are going to have a chance to continue to win. We have to stay together as a team and play one play at a time for 60 minutes, we are going to be okay.”
Senior Quarterback :
On his 34-yard Touchdown run…
“I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t get caught. I wanted to get to
the sideline as quickly as possible and make sure that I wasn’t dragged
down from behind.”
“I tried to make an effort to slide more and it worked out but after doing
it I couldn’t help but think that if I hadn’t slid that I would have been
able to get an extra 10, 20, or even 30 yards on the play.”
How satisfying was your long run and knowing now that you have the ability
to break a big one?
“It happened a lot in Junior College ball so I knew that I had it in me
but I realized last year during the Duke game that this was a whole new
ball game and I wouldn’t be able to make big plays on the ground as
consistently as before.”
Junior Tailback :
Do you worry about being fresh enough for the season with as many carries
as you have been getting?
“No, I don’t worry about it at all. In the off-season I prepared myself
for the rigors of the season and having to play every week. I have to
credit my strength and conditioning coaches on that, they do a great
Do you feel that you can now run on any team after averaging nearly 300
yards a game on the ground the last two weeks?
“I don’t know about running on anyone. I do know that we are doing a great
job running the football lately and it really compliments the passing game
well. Again, like last week, I have to give a lot of credit to the
Do you feel that opposing defenses get frustrated when the team
continually breaks 7 and 10 yard runs?
“I think they do but we don’t really worry about that, we just go out and
do our job. Again a lot of that credit goes to the offensive line.”
HEAD COACH ART BRILES
“Any time you don’t win, it’s hard. That’s why we play the game. I feel terrible for our seniors and our guys who are fighting to be a bowl-eligible team. We had a great opportunity tonight to take a positive step toward bowl eligibility, a positive step toward the respect that we’re after and we came out where it didn’t work out right there in the end. I don’t think I did a good job right there at the end of the game of allowing our guys to get in position to get a field goal. I was thinking ‘touchdown’ and not thinking ‘field goal’ because we didn’t come up here to tie and go into overtime.”
On the sequence of plays in the 4th quarter deep in Baylor territory which led to UConn’s go-ahead touchdown:
“It was a bad sequence of events. The defense did a great job in stopping [Robert Griffin]. We’re starting out of our end zone and they make a couple of plays defensively. We almost popped a screen then had to punt out and then everything happens on top of it. A call not going our way and we get a 15-yard penalty tacked on to it which puts them at our 32-yard line, on a short field. That was the worst part of it.”
TE JUSTIN AKERS
“It’s a tough loss. Everyone was out there playing as hard as they can. Obviously, there’s a lot of good things we can take out of it and also, there’s a lot of bad things. There’s a few plays we should have had, a few costly penalties and stuff we usually don’t do. In an atmosphere like this, things kind of get into your head. You always want to play up to your potential - all the time – but one thing we have to strive for is to keep our head’s up. We have Oklahoma two weeks from now so we just have to stay focused for that… Any time you can play a team like this, play them this close for this long and come down to the last few plays on national TV… someone’s going to notice us. Obviously, someone’s going to have at least a little more respect [for us] than at the beginning.”
On the play of Baylor QB Robert Griffin:
“You really can’t compare him to anyone else. The things that he does, the way that he cuts back, moves his body and the way he can throw on the run very accurately is something we really need in this offense.