EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (August 31, 2006) – Freshman Donald Brown (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.) rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns in a sterling career debut to help Connecticut amass the second-highest total of rushing yards in school history in the Huskies’ 52-7 season-opening victory over Rhode Island before 36,227 at Rentschler Field.
The Huskies had 418 rushing yards on 52 carries, which was only surpassed in school annals by the 437 rushing yards in a 71-6 romp over Massachusetts on October 13, 1956. The 418 yards was the most since the Huskies moved up to Division I-A in 2002.
The contest started inauspiciously for UConn as the Rams executed a successful onsides kick attempt to start the game, but the Rams were forced to try a 51-yard field goal by Colin Gallagher, which was well short. Connecticut wasted little time scoring, marching 66 yards in three plays, capped by a snappy 24-yard touchdown pass from D.J. Hernandez (Bristol, Conn.) to junior wide out Larry Taylor (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) The Huskies added a 41-yard field goal by senior Matt Nuzie (Trumbull, Conn.) to take a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Senior running back Terry Caulley (Lusby, Md.) plunged in from the one on fourth down to put the Huskies up 17-0 with 12:39 to play before intermission. After a Rhode Island punt, Hernandez finished off an eight play, 48-yard scoring drive with a pretty 18-yard scamper to put the Huskies comfortably ahead 24-0.
The Rams would breakup the shutout with 2:50 to play in the first half when starting signal caller Derek Cassidy hit Nick Del Grosso with a 25-yard scoring pass. The Huskies struck right back when Hernandez connected with a wide-open senior Brandon Young (Morganza, Md.) for a pretty 61-yard pass and run for the longest completion of his young career. Hernandez finished with eight completions in 13 attempts and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 33 yards and a touchdown.
Caulley finished with 95 yards on 12 carries, moving into second place on the school rushing list with 2,608 career yards.
The Huskies added three touchdown runs after intermission. Sophomore Lou Allen (Salem, Conn.) had a four-yard scoring run late in the third period, while Brown had scoring plays of three and 53 yards in the final period.
Connecticut ended up with a significant 567-293 advantage in total yards, while limiting the Rams to just 95 passing yards. Jonathon Smith (Camp Hill, Pa.) had eight tackles while Cody Brown (Coral Springs, Fla.) had one and half of the Huskies’ four sacks.
The Huskies will have ample rest before they return to the gridiron on Saturday, September 16, when they play host to ACC foe Wake Forest. Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN360.
· Tonight’s win marks the first time UConn has won four consecutive season openers since it turned the trick from 1995-98.
· With tonight’s win UConn improves to 4-0 in season openers at Rentschler Field.
· UConn improves to 5-0 against I-AA opponents since joining Division I-A in 2002.
· August 31st is tied for the second-earliest starting date for a UConn season all time.
· Tonight marked the first televised UConn football season opener at Rentschler Field.
· UConn improves to 50-35-8 following tonight’s win over Rhode Island in the all-time series.
· Connecticut’s 50 wins vs. Rhode Island mark the most UConn has collected against any single opponent in history.
· Prior to tonight’s contest, the most recent meeting between the program’s came on Nov. 11, 2000 – a 26-21 Rhode Island win.
· UConn junior Larry Taylor’s 27-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter marked the first receiving touchdown of his career.
· UConn improves to 47-58-2 all-time in season openers following tonight’s win vs. Rhode Island, dating back to 1896.
· UConn improves to 4-2 all-time in night games at Rentschler Field.
· UConn improves to 10-4 following a loss since October 26, 2002 with tonight’s win over Rhode Island. Connecticut lost the last game of the 2005 season vs. Louisville by a 30-20 count on Dec. 3, 2005.
· UConn has won 27 of its last 40 games overall following tonight’s win over Rhode Island.
· UConn has won 12 of the past 16 meetings vs. Rhode Island following tonight’s win.
· Terry Caulley’s 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter marked the 29th of his career – which ranks second in UConn career annals.
· UConn improves to 19-6 when it opens the season at home since 1947.
· Senior running back Terry Caulley’s 95 rushing yards moved him in to second place on the UConn all-time rushing list with his current total of 2,608. Caulley passed former Husky Ed Long’s previous second-best career rushing total of 2,515.
· Junior Larry Taylor’s 52-yard rush in the second quarter marked the longest rush of his career.
· Senior wide receiver Brandon Young’s 61-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter marked the longest reception of his career.
· Sophomore quarterback D.J. Hernandez’s 61-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Young in the second quarter marked the longest completion of his career.
· Junior running back Larry Taylor’s 62 rushing yards marked the highest single-game total of his career.
· UConn’s win tonight vs. Rhode Island represented its 16th win at home since 2003 – tying it with Georgia, Miami (Fla.), Texas, Texas Tech, Louisville and Hawaii for the fourth-highest total nationally since 2003.
· Tonight’s 52-7 win marked UConn largest margin of victory vs. Rhode Island since it defeated the Rams 52-7 on Nov. 14, 1984.
· UConn’s 418 rushing yards marked its second-highest single-game output in the program’s history and the best total since UConn moved I-A 2002. The record is 437 rushing yards vs. Massachusetts on Oct. 13, 1956 – a 71-6 UConn victory.
Post Game Quotes
University of Connecticut
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On the game:
“We did what we had to do tonight. There are things that I was very happy about that we did. And there are things about an opening ball game that you’re always going to have to work on. We did very, very well; very efficient. Especially in the first half, we were taking the ball and making plays. I wish we could have held the ball a little bit longer and give the defense a little bit of a break but I’m not going to complain when we’re putting points up on the board. Defensively, the bottom line is that we held them to seven points. It’s a tough offense and we tightened when we needed to. But like I said, we could have done a better job shutting them down a little bit and playing the game. I’ll take the blame for the on-side kick; I shouldn’t have had a freshman over there. Obviously, being a freshman, he wasn’t ready for it. Overall I’m pleased with the outcome of the game. Now we have some time before we play again and there are things we can work on in between. I thought we were pretty crisp execution wise; only three penalties. I thought the team did well and I congratulated them on it.”
Coach, can you talk about the dynamism of Terry Caulley, DJ Hernandez and Larry Taylor ?
“Well, one game doesn’t put them in the hall of fame. I think we do have some players that have some explosiveness. Our guys just need to understand that if everybody does their jobs then we can move the ball around and try to do some things. I thought our offensive line did an excellent job; Mike Foley’s done an excellent job with them. As we ran the ball we felt we could get those safeties a chance to go over the top. We felt we could hit some home runs off of them and we did.”
On Larry Taylor:
“Well, I can remember going down to florida to watch him play when he was in high school on a Friday night. I saw what a tremendous athlete he was. We felt we could put him in the position of wide receiver and he could give us a little more explosion offensively. You can see he’s very quick and he has the ability to make people miss. He can find a way to make a first down based on his abilities. I thought that was good. And what we’re going to try to do with him is put him in a position to make plays.
Concerning your previous ACL injury you seemed to be moving well out there, it seems like you gained everything back.
“I feel that I haven’t lost anything from the ACL injury; in fact I feel that I have gotten better from that injury.”
Do you feel that you are more in the game by being placed at wide receiver?
“I feel more involved and love the feeling of going out there and having something greater to look forward to.”
How do you feel about having all the new weapons in the backfield?
“The running backs are very deep with Donald Brown, Terry Caulley and Lou Allen. It is a very talented backfield.”
How do you feel about this first game?
“It was a perfect test. It was a chance for us to tighten up before we get to Navy, luckily we have a couple of games. Right now we have to focus on Wake Forest and when Navy comes up we are going to do what we have to in order to stop them.”
Was it good to see a lot of the younger guys get in today?
“Yeah, Harold [Stanback]got in there a little bit and Lindsey [Witten] got his feet wet. We just have to get the boys some experience and we should be fine."
How’s the knee and how did it feel after the first play?
“It’s good. We approached it a little different. Everything worked out fine. It’s healthy now and probably back to where it was before I got hurt. I have a lot more confidence now.”
Would you say your knee is 100%?
“I have my personal percentage, but at the same time I’ll just let my action’s speak for themselves. I just want to perform and let everyone else judge that [knee].”
How was it playing for the first time without your father watching?
“It’s fine. I know he’s looking down on me. I wish he could be here, but he’s not. Anyhow, it was a great night.”
Were you concerned that your offense wasn’t getting enough playing time in the first half because they were scoring too quickly?
“No, it’s the offense’s job to score points and the quicker we score the better. I know the lineman like that and when we’re out their for one play and we score, but I wasn’t worried. We had to take care of business tonight and we did.”
University of Rhode Island
HEAD COACH TIM STOWERD | QUARTERBACK DEREK CASSIDY
HEAD COACH TIM STOWERS
Regarding the progress UConn has made since joining the Big East Conference:
“My hats off to coach Edsall and his staff for bringing this program to where it is today and I think they’re going to go even higher. The sky’s the limit for the University of Connecticut football program. A really nice stadium, great facilities and they’ve really improved from the last time we played them in 2000. From then until this point in time, they’ve gone from being an Atlantic 10 Conference member to the Big East.”
On playing in Rentschler Field:
“I know our football team would have a little bit of the jitters because of the kind of arena we’re playing in. But I told them at halftime, all the jitters are gone now. We need to stop making mistakes. We made enough mistakes on offense and defense probably for an entire football season. We got a lot of work to do as a football team, but I really like our team and our chances in our own league.”
Regarding the onside kick to start the game:
“Playing against a Big East team that has a considerable amount of scholarships and obviously a home field advantage, we really wanted to be aggressive. It turned out fairly well but we would’ve liked to get at least three points out of it. We weren’t able to at the time and I thought we had a chance to have 17 points on the board at halftime.”
QUARTERBACK DEREK CASSIDY
On playing a Div-IA opponent:
“Obviously, they’re a Big East team. These guys are good. They’re bigger, faster, stronger than us but I feel that if we execute, we can play with anybody. We had a lot of mistakes, lot of penalties, couple of turnovers.”
Regarding the onside kick to start the game:
“It felt good to get a little bit of momentum early. But like coach said, we would’ve really liked to get some points out of it. We get an onside kick and then a nice little pass play for a first down right off the bat, but we couldn’t turn it into anything.”