10:00 AM ET, November 25, 2004
High Point Solutions Stadium, PISCATAWAY, NJ
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Put Connecticut on the football map, too.
Dan Orlovsky threw three touchdowns and Connecticut virtually assured itself of a bowl bid in its first season as a football member of the Big East Conference with a wild 41-35 victory over Rutgers on Thursday.
"Now we know we are going to be going somewhere," coach Randy Edsall said after the Huskies (7-4, 3-3) solidified their bowl credentials. "Gosh! December 21, 1998, I could have never envisioned this."
As soon as the words come out of his mouth, Edsall choked with emotion, referring to the day he was hired and asked to build Connecticut into a Division 1-A program.
"I think this is monumental," Edsall said. "This is another milestone. It seems like we keep having milestones upon milestones with this program because of the kids and coaches in that room."
The Big East is in the BCS mix and it has agreements with the Gator Bowl, the Continental Tire Bowl and the Insight Bowl.
Connecticut athletic director Jeff Hathaway, whose school won the men's and women's NCAA basketball titles last season, planned to talk with bowl representatives over the next few days. He hopes to make a bowl announcement soon.
"I think people believe the UConn brand is very powerful, very strong and recognized nationwide for a variety of sports," said Hathaway, who had tears in his eyes. "We have been blessed to go to a lot of Final Fours and moved the tickets. I think the bowls believe in us."
Tight end Dan Murray caught touchdown passes of 32 and 3 yards and halfback Cornell Brockington ran for two more and caught another scoring pass playing only a half because of a shoulder injury.
Chris Bellamy also scored on 2-yard run as Connecticut sent Rutgers (4-7, 1-5) to its fifth straight loss in a season that began with hopes of a first bowl bid since 1978.
"We knew we had to be 7-4 to definitely secure a bowl," Bellamy said. "Me as a senior, that was my dream to go to a bowl."
Tres Moses capped a record season at Rutgers, scoring on touchdown passes of 87 and 16 yards. He finished with seven catches for 168 yards.
Brian Leonard ran for a touchdown and Willie Foster made the game interesting with an 80-yard kickoff return for a score with 2:14 to play to close the lead to six points.
However, Connecticut recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock. Orlovsky took a knee after the final snap and pumped his fist.
"This has been a long road and a long process, and we're here today, Nov. 25, and we're going bowling," said Orlovsky, who gave UConn the lead for good and broke a 28-all tie with his 32-yard TD pass to Murray in the third quarter.
Connecticut outgained 489 yards to 454 with Orlovsky finishing 19-of-30 for 264 yards and two interceptions.
Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart was 26-of-33 for 279 yards and two TDs, including a 13-yarder to Marcus Daniels that tied the game at 21 just before halftime.
Scarlet Knights backup quarterback Terrence Shawell threw the 87-yard scoring pass to Moses, who set school records for catches (81) and yards (1,056).
"I performed well, but this is a team," Moses said. "We are disappointed in how the season ended. We wanted to make it to a bowl game."
Brockington staked Connecticut to a 21-7 lead by scoring on runs of 1 and 5 yards and taking a 16-yard screen pass for another tally.
Moses resurrected the Scarlet Knights' hopes by hauling in a pass by Shawell and scoring on an 87-yard pass play to cut the lead to 21-14 just 31 seconds after Brockington's catch.
An interception by cornerback Joe Porter with 2:33 to play, set up Hart's game-tying touchdown pass to Daniels with 38 seconds left in the first half.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||8-13||6-13|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||2-3|
|TD||9:43||BRIAN LEONARD 1 YD RUN (JEREMY ITO KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 81 yards.
|TD||4:31||CORNELL BROCKINGTON 1 YD RUN (MATT NUZIE KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 42 yards.
|TD||0:35||CORNELL BROCKINGTON 5 YD RUN (MATT NUZIE KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 64 yards.
|TD||6:38||CORNELL BROCKINGTON 16 YD PASS FROM DAN ORLOVSKY (MATT NUZIE KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 55 yards.
|TD||6:07||TRES MOSES 87 YD PASS FROM TERRENCE SHAWELL (JEREMY ITO KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 87 yards.
|TD||0:38||MARCUS DANIELS 13 YD PASS FROM RYAN HART (JEREMY ITO KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 59 yards.
|TD||10:01||CHRIS BELLAMY 2 YD RUN (MATT NUZIE KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 81 yards.
|TD||7:14||TRES MOSES 16 YD PASS FROM RYAN HART (JEREMY ITO KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 76 yards.
|TD||6:08||DAN MURRAY 32 YD PASS FROM DAN ORLOVSKY (MATT NUZIE KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 52 yards.
|TD||2:28||DAN MURRAY 3 YD PASS FROM DAN ORLOVSKY (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||2:14||WILLIE FOSTER 80 YD KICK RETURN (JEREMY ITO KICK)||41||35|