Nov. 26, 2011
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Live Chat Archive | Feature: Fast Start On Saturday Keeps Bowl Hopes Alive
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - University of Connecticut redshirt freshman running back Lyle McCombs (Staten Island, N.Y.) and redshirt freshman quarterback Scott McCummings (Natick, Mass.) each ran for two touchdowns as UConn defated Rutgers 40-22 on Saturday before a crowd of 37,857 at Rentschler Field on Senior Day.
Connecticut improved to 5-6 on the season and 3-3 in the BIG EAST. The Huskies play their regular season finale next Satuday at Cincinnati. A win by UConn would make the Huskies bowl eligible for the fifth-straight year. Rutgres, who was looking to advance to its first-ever BCS game and a share of its first-ever BIG EAST Championship, fell to 8-4 and 4-3 in the league.
Junior Nick Williams (East Windsor, N.J.) had 158 return yards, setting up the Huskies in good field position all afternoon and senior defensive tackle Kendall Reyes (Nashua, N.H.) returned a Chas Dodd fumble for a touchdown.
Brandon Coleman had 223 receiving yards and two touchdowns for Rutgers. Mohammad Sanu caught nine balls for 133 yards, extending his conference-leading total to 109 receptions this season.
McCombs carried the ball 20 times for 95 yards. He now has 1,109 on the season, the fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season for a Huskies running back.
Rutgers freshman Gary Nova threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns to Brandon Coleman. His 17-yarder made it 40-16 and the pair hooked up on a 92-yard catch and run with 2:15 left in the game. The two-point conversion attempts following each touchdown failed.
Nova completed 11 of 18 passes for 298 yards, all in the fourth quarter in relief of Dodd. He was 11 of 22 for 141 yards, but he fumbled and was intercepted, and both turnovers turned into UConn touchdowns.
The Huskies held Rutgers to 26 yards rushing and had six sacks, four by junior defensive end Trevardo Williams (Bridgeport, Conn).
UConn had just 290 offensive yards, but started five drives in Rutgers territory and two others near midfield.
Williams had three kickoff returns for 128 yards, and a 30-yard punt return.
He returned the second-half kickoff 54 yards and McCombs took a handoff on the next play and ran right for 36 yards. His 4-yard run up the middle two plays later gave the Huskies a 31-10 lead. Williams' long punt return set up UConn's next touchdown, a 14-yard option keeper by McCummings that put the Huskies up 37-10. The extra point was blocked, giving senior Dave Teggart (Northborough, Mass.) his first miss in 128 point-after attempts.
Teggart came back to hit a 47-yard field goal after UConn ate up almost six minutes of the clock on its next possession, aided by a roughing the punter call on Rutgers.
Connecticut turned two early Rutgers turnovers into touchdowns. UConn redshirt junior linebacker Sio Moore (Apex, N.C.) forced a fumble by Jawan Jamison on the third play of the game, giving the Huskies the ball on the Scarlet Knights' 24-yard line. UConn then handed the ball off twice to McCombs, who ran for 14 yards one first down and then went into the end zone from 10 yards out to give the Huskies a 7-0 lead.
Redshirt freshman safety Ty-Meer Brown (McKeesport, Pa.) intercepted a pass tipped by redshirt freshman safety Byron Jones (New Britain, Conn.) on Rutgers' next drive, giving UConn the ball at the 40. McCummings ran the ball in from the 5-yard line, making a nice spin move after keeping the ball on an option play.
Rutgers had just one yard rushing in the first quarter.
The Scarlet Knights put together a 13-play, five-minute drive, but had to settle for a 25-yard San San Te field goal that cut the lead to 14-3.
A second quarter UConn punt pinned Rutgers at its own one-yard line. Dodd fumbled five plays later and the ball was picked up by Reyes, who rumbled nine yards for the Huskies third score and UConn's fourth defensive touchdown this season.
Coleman out-jumped redshirt junior cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson (Edinboro, Pa.) for a 45-yard reception during a seven-play 80-yard drive, which ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Jamison with just over four minutes left in the half.
UConn took the kickoff and drove 11 plays over the final 4:04 of the half. Teggart's 33-yard field goal gave the Huskies a 24-10 halftime lead. Rutgers had been giving up under 17 points per game.
McCummings ran 10 times for 47 yards and attempted just one pass for UConn, a 22-yard one-handed completion to redshirt junir tight end Ryan Griffin (Londonderry, N.H.) in the second half. UConn starter redshirt junior Johnny McEntee (Fullerton, Calif.) was 10 of 16 for 90 yards.
The Scarlet Knights were trying to become the first team in league history to go from worst to first in consecutive seasons.
Rutgers had taken five of the last six games between the two teams, including the last three by a total of nine points. Last year's win came on a 34-yard field goal with 13 seconds left. In 2009, Rutgers won on an 81-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left.