EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Michael Bush wasn't rusty, just
It didn't take him long to heat up.
Bush rushed for three touchdowns in his first appearance since
missing two games with a sprained foot and Hunter Cantwell threw
for another score to lead No. 16 Louisville to a 30-20 win over
Connecticut on Saturday night. The game-time temperature at
Rentschler Field was a chilly 30 degrees, a rude greeting for a
runner with a tender left foot.
"I was nervous because it was so cold. I only had on one pair
of socks," Bush said. "All 10 of my toes was numb. But once the
quarterback says "hike" and all those guys are trying to get you,
all that pain goes away."
UConn had a hard time getting to Bush all night.
The Big East rushing leader finished with 121 yards to go over
the 1,000-yard mark for the season. It was his sixth 100-yard
rushing game of the season and his 23 touchdowns rushing this year
set a single-season school record.
The Gator Bowl-bound Cardinals (9-2, 5-2) were without Big East
passing leader Brian Brohm, who went down for the season with a
knee injury last week. But they didn't miss a beat.
Cantwell, a walk-on making his first start, threw for 271 yards,
completing 16 of 25 attempts. He admitted he had a few jitters to
"To say I wasn't a little nervous would be lying," Cantwell
said. "It's something I've been working towards my whole life, so
it was good to get in there and get my feet wet."
The Cardinals closed out their inaugural season in the Big East
with a five-game winning streak. They also ensured that the Huskies
(5-6, 2-5) had their first losing season since becoming a full
Division I-A program four years ago. The loss also ended UConn's
hopes of becoming bowl eligible for the third straight year.
The Louisville defense recovered four of UConn's five fumbles
and two of them set up scores.
Bush scored twice in the first half. His first touchdown, a
5-yard run, capped an eight-play, 60-yard drive set up by
Cantwell's 25-yard pass to Jason Tinch.
His second score -- a 1-yard run -- came four plays after the
Cardinals recovered a muffed UConn punt on the Huskies 12 and put
Louisville up 14-7.
"It was good to see Michael back running the ball," coach
Bobby Petrino said. "He's certainly not 100 percent but he made up
his mind he was going to play."
The Cardinals extended the lead to 21-7 on Cantwell's 46-yard
touchdown pass to Mario Urrutia with 2:56 left in the half. The
freshman quarterback had just 153 total yards passing entering the
game and exceeded that by halftime.
Louisville tacked on another score early in the third quarter on
Bush's 5-yard run. The Cardinals recovered another UConn fumble
late in the period, leading to Art Carmody's 38-yard field goal as
time expired in the period with Louisville up 30-14.
The Huskies also went with a backup quarterback in D.J.
Hernandez, who got the nod after starter Matt Bonislawski reinjured
his collarbone in last week's win over South Florida. Hernandez
threw for all three of UConn's scores, his longest a 57-yard TD
pass to Nollis Dewar with 4:21 left in the game.
George Stripling finished with 67 yards rushing for Louisville.
Urrutia was the leading receiver with four catches for 94 yards.
Hernandez also led the UConn ground game with 49 yards on 18
rushes. Dewar had a team-high 89 yards receiving for UConn.
The Cardinals will face an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent in
the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2. The preseason favorite to win the
conference this year, fell short in their bid for a BCS berth with
losses to South Florida and West Virginia.
"We kind of had expectations a little high, but things happen
for a reason," Bush said. "But finishing 9-2 is a great season. A
lot of teams can't even make it to a bowl game, so that's pretty
The Cardinals also spoiled the final game for UConn's 13
seniors, a group that helped the Huskies build their Division I-A
program and win their first bowl game last year.
"I am extremely disappointed for our seniors that weren't able
to get this game and extend their season," UConn coach Randy
Edsall said. "Our kids competed hard and played hard, but playing
hard doesn't get you what you want. And what we wanted was a win."