Ryan Griffin scored his sixth touchdown of the season.
Dec. 1, 2012
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Cincinnati quarterback Brandon Kay threw two touchdown passes to Travis Kelce, and caught one from the big tight end on a trick play, as the Bearcats beat the University of Connecticut football team by 34-17 on Saturday before a crowd of 33,112 at Rentschler Field.
The win gave Cincinnati a final regular season record of 9-3 and was 5-2 in the BIG EAST to gain a share of the league championship with Louisville, Rutgers and Syracuse. Louisville will represent the BIG EAST in the BCS via its win over Rutgers on Thursday. Cincinnati's two conference losses came to the Cardinals and Scarlet Knights and the Bearcats were not in the running for the conference's Bowl Championship Series bowl berth.
Kelce caught five balls for 69 yards and the two scores while Kay completed 19 of his 29 passes for 245 yards and the two scores.
UConn redshirt sophomore quarterback Chandler Whitmer (Newnan, Ga.) threw for 264 yards and a touchdown for UConn, before leaving the game with a head injury in the third quarter.
Kay hit Kelce for a 25-yard touchdown on the Bearcats' opening drive, one of three passes of at least 25 yards during the six-play, 76-yard march. Kelce returned the favor to Kay in the second quarter. An interception return by Chris Williams set the Bearcats up on the UConn 39. On first down, Kelce took a backward screen pass from Kay and threw the ball back across the field to his quarterback, who ran down the right side for a touchdown that made it 14-0.
Kay found Kelce from 21-yards out on the opening drive of the second half to give the Bearcats a 21-10 lead. Kelce and Kay came into the program together as quarterbacks.
Connecticut senior tight end Ryan Griffin (Londonderry, N.H.) got the Huskies into the game in the second quarter with a 74-yard TD catch. He caught the ball on the UConn 35 and outran the Bearcats' defense, diving into the end zone after almost being tripped up at the six-yard line by Deven Drane to make it 14-10 at the half.
UConn freshman kicker Bobby Puyol (North Palm Beach, Fla.) made the first field goal of his career, a 40-yarder to give the Huskies their first points. That was set up when Whitmer found redshirt senior wide receiver Michael Smith (Houston, Texas) open over the middle for a 51-yard pass from the UConn 24-yard line. UConn's regular kicker, junior Chad Christen (Etters, Pa.), sat out the game with a hip injury.
Whitmer started for UConn despite being knocked out of last week's win over Louisville with a head injury. He left this game in the third quarter after taking a shot from Greg Blair on a trick play and hitting his head on the turf.
Senior walk-on quarterback Johnny McEntee (Fullerton, Calif.) replaced Whitmer and completed the 15-play, 69-yard drive which ended with a one-yard touchdown plunge by redshirt sophomore Lyle McCombs (Staten Island, N.Y.). It was the first second-half touchdown in a BIG EAST game for UConn this season and brought the Huskies to within four at 21-17. McCombs finished with 21 carries for 60 yards.
A bad pass by McEntee that was intercepted by Drane set up another Bearcats touchdown, a four-yard run by George Winn, his 12th touchdown this season. That came after Tony Miliano had made it a seven-point game, hitting a 38-yard field goal with 12 minutes left. His 42-yarder with six minutes left put a bow on the game.
McEntee finished with 73 yards passing and two interceptions. Winn finished with just 70 yards rushing after coming in averaging 105 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry. He had just eight yards at the half.