UConn to play West Virginia on Saturday, November 24 for BIG EAST Championship
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (November 17, 2007) - Junior quarterback Tyler Lorenzen (Fremont, Iowa) threw for 213 yards and a touchdown as the 25th-ranked Connecticut football team easily defeated Syracuse, 30-7, Saturday afternoon to keep their BIG EAST Championship and Bowl Championship Series (BCS) berth hopes alive before a sellout crowd of 40,000 at Rentschler Field.
The win gives the Huskies a 9-2 record, 5-1 in BIG EAST play, while the Orange slips to 2-9 overall and 1-5 in the conference. Connecticut remains in first place and will earn the conference title and the BIG EAST’s automatic entry into the BCS with a victory next week at West Virginia. The nine victories earned by the Huskies ties this team for the second-most in school history, and the Huskies joined the 1993 West Virginia squad as the only BIG EAST teams to ever go 7-0 at home in one season.
Senior linebacker Danny Lansanah (Harrisburg, Pa.), one of 10 Connecticut seniors honored before playing their final home game for the Huskies, returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown to close out the Connecticut scoring early in the fourth quarter, the fifth interception return of the season for the Huskies. It was also the eighth non-offensive touchdown scored by Connecticut this year. Both of those marks are school records.
Sophomore running back Donald Brown (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.) led the Connecticut running game with 99 yards on 22 carries, while Andre Dixon (New Brunswick, N.J.) chipped in with 62 yards on 15 carries. Each back had a touchdown.
The Connecticut offense, which had been most successful running the ball this season, made a concerted effort to throw the ball against the Orange. On the Huskies’ initial drive of the game, Lorenzen completed three-straight passes, the last of which was a beautiful 63-yard catch-and-run hookup with Terence Jeffers (Lawrenceville, Ga.) for a touchdown. It was the longest reception of Jeffers’ career. The scoring drive of 95 yards was the longest scoring drive for the Huskies since marching 98 yards at Syracuse last year. The drive also marked the seventh time Connecticut had scored on its initial drive of the game.
Connecticut extended its lead later in the first quarter by taking advantage of a short field after Rob Lunn (Penfield, N.Y.) recovered a fumble by Syracuse quarterback Andrew Robinson that was caused by Darius Butler (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). Eight plays and 35 yards later, Dixon bulled in from the one to give Connecticut a 14-0 lead.
The Huskies extended their advantage to 21-0 before halftime when Brown rambled in from the Orange 21 to cap a seven play, 77-yard drive with 7:04 to play in the second quarter. Junior place kicker Tony Ciaravino (Boca Raton, Fla.) made a 33-yard field goal midway through the third quarter to give the Huskies a 24-0 lead. The field goal was Ciaravino’s 21th of the season, which makes him the school record holder for most made in one season at Connecticut passing Matt Nuzie (2004).
Cameron Dantley hit Mike Williams with a two-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that helped the Orange avoid the shutout.
The Connecticut defense held the Orange to just 255 yards of total offense and sacked Robinson four times.
The Huskies will play their final regular season game on Saturday, November 24 when they play the Mountaineers of West Virginia. The game will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. and be broadcast regionally by ABC.
- UConn joins the 1993 West Virginia Mountaineers as the only BIG EAST teams to ever go 7-0 at home in a single season.
- UConn is now 25-8 at Rentschler Field. The Huskies are 7-0 this season at home. That is a school record. The Huskies were 6-1 at Rentschler in 2004. The Huskies’ last undefeated home record was a 5-0 mark in 1989.
- With nine wins, it ties for the second-most wins in school history. The Huskies went 10-3 in 1998 and 9-3 in 2002.
- UConn has started the same 11 defensive players for all 11 games this season, the only Division I-A team in the nation to do so.
- Today marked the 22nd sellout in 33 games UConn has played at Rentschler Field.
- UConn has scored on seven of its 11 opening drives, they are now 7-0 when they have scored in the opening drive this season.
- UConn’s 95 yard drive in the first quarter was the longest drive since the Huskies put up a 98 yard drive last season at Syracuse on November 18, 2006.
- With the win UConn is now 2-2 all-time against Syracuse. The home team has won every meeting.
- UConn is now 13-6 in the month of November in the past five seasons including a 7-1 record at Rentschler Field.
- The Huskies are now 16-9 following a loss since Oct. 26, 2002, including a 3-0 mark in 2007.
- UConn is 2-1 all-time when playing as a ranked team.
- UConn now has five interceptions returned for touchdowns this season, extending a school record. That is the eighth non-offensive touchdown, also extending the school record
- UConn has 21 interceptions this season.
- Today is Randy Edsall’s 50th career win at UConn. He is the third winningest coach in Husky history behind J.O Christian (66) and Tom Jackson (62).
- Tyler Lorenzen’s 63 yard pass was the longest touchdown pass since Dan Orlovsky connected with Jason Williams on a 90 yard touchdown pass against Temple on October 23, 2004. It is also Lorenzen’s career long pass.
- Terence Jeffers’ 63 yard touchdown reception was the longest catch of his career.
- Tony Ciaravino’s 21 converted field goals is a school record, surpassing Matt Nuzie's 20 field goals in 2004.
- Tony Ciaravino’s 38-yard field goal miss at 12:03 of the third quarter was the first miss by Ciaravino in the second half of a game this season.
- Robert Vaughn’s interception in the third quarter was the 6th of the season. This ties him with Justin Perkins (2004) and Roy Hopkins (2002) for the most in the D-IA era.
- Danny Lansanah’s interception returned for a touchdown was the second of his career, this ties him with Scott Lutrus, Darius Butler and Justin Perkins (2001-04) for most in UConn history.
- Anthony Sherman made his first career start today lined up as an H-Back.
Post Game Quotes
University of Connecticut
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“First off, I have to congratulate those players in that locker room for just a tremendous job today and really so far through 11 games for their focus, how well they’ve been able to stay with the job at hand in terms of taking it one game at a time, one play at a time, and really just sticking together and making this whole thing happen. I couldn’t be prouder of a bunch of guys. I don’t know if I’ve even been around a bunch of guys like those guys, but we’ve still got work to do, and the assistant coaches for the job that they do. [It’s] just unbelievable.
“Who would have ever thought that after 11 games, being 9-2, that this team would be playing for the right for the BIG EAST Championship next week? Probably nobody in America ever thought that expect for the guys in that locker room. I’m just glad that they’ve allowed me to be a small part of it. [It’s] a tremendous win and there’s not much else I can say.”
Did you follow the same formula today that you have been using all season to defeat Syracuse?
“To me football is a very simple game. It’s about blocking, tackling, not turning the ball over, and playing as hard as you can on every play. That’s what we’ve tried to get these kids to do and they’ve done a good job. Play good defense, don’t give up the big play, and create turnovers.
Offensively, run the football, throw with efficiency, and don’t turn the ball over.
Special teams, try to play field position, and create opportunities with your special teams. It’s what we’ve been able to do and we’re not going to change now. It’s just today was very typical of what it’s been about all year long. Nothing’s changed.”
On Danny Lansanah:
“Well I’m glad nobody had the angle on him because I think he’s put on some pounds during the year and he looked a little slow chugging down through there (the interception). I said to him when he came out for senior day, I told him, ‘Not bad for a guy from Harrisburg, Penn. where you come from. Finish it the right way’ and he sure did that. He sure finished in the right way. I’m just very, very proud of him and all the guys. All the seniors, they got the game balls. The game ball went to all ten seniors, but Danny’s been huge and that really helped today too.”
Are you surprised with the success of the team this year?
“Well, I’m trying to think, there was a time in the locker room after one of the games. It might have been Larry Taylor who made a comment early in the season and all the sudden he said "BIG EAST CHAMPS". I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop there.’
“I’ll be truthful with you. I thought we’d be a better football team this year, but I didn’t know where it was going to go. I didn’t know how many wins we would get or where we would be, but I’ve been around long enough – I’ve been on teams as a player and as a coach – where I don’t know if you call it magical, chemistry, camaraderie, people are just going to do things you never expected them to do and this group from January on has done the things that we needed to do. Is it surprising? Yes and no probably.”
How important was the quick strike in the beginning of the game?
“It was nice to establish the momentum and get some points on the board. Terence Jeffers made a great play on the ball and took it to the house. It was a great play.”
On Terence Jeffers:
“He always has another gear that is somewhere and he seems to find it here and there. When he finds it, you can tell he has some wheels.”
Do you appreciate what it has taken to get to this point?
“We have worked our tails off; we were out here in January. There was a lot of talk about last year and how they did not things to happen this year like last year. The seniors carried the load and really spoke a lot about that. It really showed that there was a chip on their shoulder and we just wanted to win. Some how, some way and do it as a team and find a way. That is pretty much what we have been doing all season and now we have one game left to achieve our goal. We have a lot of work to do and we are not satisfied yet but we are excited.”
When did you know this team was going to be special?
“The summer workouts; staying here in the summer, working out, doing seven on sevens really helped us as a team come together.”
What makes it hard to play on the road?
“The crowd is against you, sometimes the communication is harder and it is a hostile environment. It just is not home.”
So is it mental?
"It is a mental thing. They say that football is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. Sometimes it is but knowing in your mind that you can beat someone then you could do it”
How does it feel to have the shot to win the Big East?
“It feels great to accomplish one of the goals that you wanted to accomplish, which was playing for a Big East championship. It was one of our goals that we set in the beginning of the year and a lot of people doubted us except for the people back at Storrs. Now we are in a position to control our own destiny.”
On touchdown off an interception:
“It was big and my eyes lit up when I saw the end zone. It was big to go out with a bang with an interception for a touchdown."
What did you think about your chance to play West Virginia for the BIG EAST Championship?
"I knew we had it in us, we have all the tools and we have utilized them to allow us this opportunity."
What’s so difficult about winning on the road?
"It’s tough, it’s the BIG EAST, every teams is tough and on the road everybody is against you. So you have to come out ready to play."
How much of a help is Rentschler Field been for you guys this year?
"Rentschler Field is big, the crowd support this year has been tremendous, everybody’s here and very rarely do you see people leave early, so it’s helped us out a lot?"
A lot of the Seniors were getting a little emotional before the game, was it a little bitter-sweet in the locker room after the game.
"Definitely, it’s their last timeout there but we still have something to play for next week."
When did it hit you that this was your last game at Rentschler Field?
"Last night when we got to the hotel and at dinner I was like this is my last meal but it’s probably one of my favorite meals too. It’s been a good ride man."
Was it a little bitter-sweet in the locker room afterward?
"Yea, I mean I’m fine, my dad’s out waiting for me now. Syracuse might be out here joking around but it was great man, our fans came out and supported us and that’s all we wanted to do, come out and finish at home strong."
How hard was it to keep that game (West Virginia) out of your mind?
"It wasn’t, honestly it wasn’t. If you’ve seen how we’ve been going week by week, then you can see that we’ve been successful with what we’ve been doing. We take all the short-term goals and when we add them all up we get to our long-term goal."
Without getting yourself in trouble, did you expect more out of Syracuse today?
"Syracuse has a long and stories tradition, they’ve had Heisman winners and Dwight Freeney and Marvin Harrison have played there and it’s hard to keep that level of success going and I think sometimes teams in that position have a tendency to get complacent. I’m not taking anything away from Syracuse, they came out and they played their game, it’s not like they didn’t show up, no one comes out and says they want to go 2-9 but if you look at some of their losses there were close games and they played a very tough non-conference schedule too. Top to bottom in the Big East we’re real competitive too."
What kind of emotions are you feeling with this being the last game for the seniors?
"I am feeling some emotions for the guys that this is their last year here. I came up with some of those guys. Tyvon (Branch) is from the upstate area and Dan Davis, he’s one of my closest friends on the team. We still have another game to go though, you know."
What’s the difference between UConn and Syracuse?
"The only real difference is the tradition that Syracuse has but when we’re in the Big East for a couple more years, we’ll be more equal. We still lose recruits to Syracuse but when people see we’re winning here and they see that we have the facilities that’s going to start to change, I think."
HEAD COACH GREG ROBINSON
On the play of QB Andrew Robinson and his “tentative” approach:
“I don’t know if that’s the case. I’m not certain. I think he was under duress pretty good, too. I think that was part of it. Obviously, the stats tell you that he wasn’t great. I think later in the game he was feeling it a little bit but all and all, I just don’t think we weren’t throwing the ball very well in general and that takes everybody involved… Obviously, the passing game wasn’t working.”
On the UConn interception in the end zone with Syracuse deep in Husky territory:
“[Andrew] was forcing it in, trying to make something happen. It was unfortunate… That was a disappointing play. Big time. There was still a good amount of time left… just a shame to get down there like that and then throw that ball away.”
On the long touchdown play to start the game for the UConn offense and the “tone” it set for the game:
“It was one-on-one coverage and they hit it. I don’t think it set the tone for the game, not at all. Sometimes that does happen but I don’t want to ever think that. ‘Come on, okay… we’re only down 7 points. Let’s go.’ That won’t be the last time we give up a touchdown pass and that’s the way I look at it. That kid came back and covered the hell out of those guys.”
DE JAMEEL MCCLAIN
On the 9th loss of the season for Syracuse:
“It was a tough game. It was a tough loss. It’s a tough loss for the seniors. It’s a tough loss for the program. We wanted to bring more to the table but obviously, that’s not what happened. It’s a bad feeling.”
On the two-headed running attack of UConn’s Donald Brown & Andre Dixon:
“I guess it did [wear us down]. They were running the ball and we were there, but leaking yardage. That never helps. They have two good running backs that they can rotate in, so I guess their running game did wear us down a little bit…. The goal line stand, the blocked extra point. It’s a ‘never give up’ mentality and that’s how a defense has to be. Hopefully, we can produce more statistically and show more but there’s no quit in anybody out on that field.”
QB ANDREW ROBINSON
On the interception deep in UConn territory and his overall play:
“It was just a bad read [on the interception]. I tried to read too many things. I tried to go up top, outside and then come all the way inside without really going through my proper progression. In D-I football, when you don’t do the things you have to do - the little things - you’re going to get burned every once in a while... I have to go out there and perform better than I did for our team to have a chance to win. So, I take responsibility for a lot of the things that happened out there today.”