12:00 PM ET, October 1, 2005
Michie Stadium, West Point, NY
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) -- Darius Butler said it was easy. He sure made it look that way.
Butler, a redshirt freshman, had the first three interceptions of his career, returning one for a score, and Matt Bonislawski threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns to lead Connecticut past Army 47-13 on Saturday.
It was the ninth loss in a row over two seasons and fifth straight at home for Army (0-4), which was coming off a disheartening 28-21 loss to No. 23 Iowa State. For the Huskies (3-1), it was their third straight win over Army.
With the Huskies holding a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter, Butler's first big play sparked a 17-point surge before halftime. He took advantage of mistake-prone Army quarterback Zac Dahman, who lost 20 yards back to his own 5 after fumbling while backpedaling to throw, then was intercepted along the right side on the next play by Butler.
"They did the same things they did on film," said Butler, who returned the ball 35 yards to the Army 4. "They like slants a lot, so I was playing more on the inside. I just sat on it and the quarterback threw it right to me. I wanted to get in the end zone."
He didn't, but Terry Caulley did on the next play.
"That got the momentum back up. That was good," said Butler, who returned his final pick 86 yards with 6:25 remaining in the fourth to tie a school record for interceptions in a game. He had 122 return yards on the interceptions, a Michie Stadium record.
The Huskies, with shutout victories over lowly Buffalo and Division I-AA Liberty, entered the game ranked second nationally in total defense and played like it. They limited Army to 261 total yards on 82 plays, held the Black Knights to 71 yards rushing on 40 carries, and registered five sacks.
"It was a very embarrassing loss," Army coach Bobby Ross said. "We didn't feel like we were ready to play, and we have to be ready to play. We're a team that has to play with a lot of fire and a lot of fight. If we do that, we give ourselves a good chance."
The Black Knights said the loss to Iowa State didn't factor into their play.
"I thought we had a good week of practice, so I don't know why we went out there flat today," Army defensive back Caleb Campbell said. "I didn't think we were that down."
In its near-upset of Iowa State, Army held the Cyclones to 229 yards, its best defensive effort in 29 games. The Black Knights couldn't duplicate the effort.
The Huskies outgained Army 236-53 in the first half and took advantage of poor tackling and terrific field position. UConn did not punt before the break, mainly because the Huskies started five drives within 7 yards of midfield, two of them in Army territory, and that helped them build a commanding 24-6 halftime lead.
"We felt this team was a much better team than it was a year ago," said UConn coach Randy Edsall, whose Huskies beat Army 40-3 in 2004. "I think our guys took the challenge to heart. We can't take anything or anybody for granted."
The Huskies had scored on their first drive in each of their first three games, and this one was no different. After forcing Army to go three-and-out to start the game, Bonislawski completed all five of his pass attempts for 46 yards to drive the Huskies 57 yards to their first score.
Caulley kept the drive alive with a 4-yard run on fourth-and-1 at the Army 25 and Bonislawski capped it on the next play with a 21-yard TD pass to Jason Williams, who was all alone in the left corner of the end zone.
The Black Knights' play on special teams kept them in the game for a while. They blocked two field goal attempts by Matt Nuzie, who also missed wide left on a 40-yard try before leaving with a hip pointer.
"It was good to see us come up with some plays on defense," Edsall said. "But offensively, we left way too many points on the board. We've got to finish drives. The kicking is inexcusable. They pushed us back."
Bonislawski, who was 18-for-26 passing with no turnovers, eluded the Army rush and hit Williams with an 8-yard scoring pass with 2:26 left, and Graig Vicidomino kicked a 35-yard field goal to give UConn its big halftime lead.
More importantly, Bonislawski fired up his teammates when they came out flat to start the second half.
"He got in the huddle and got after some guys," Edsall said. "I saw something. He was shaking his fist, getting after the guys. That's the process you want to see with your quarterback. It's his team.
"He's 3-1 as the starter. Does he have to get better? Yes. But I like the way he's running our offense."