Syracuse turns tables on UConn, ending Big East skid

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Curtis Brinkley scored two touchdowns, the Syracuse defense shut down Connecticut's running game, and the Orange beat the Huskies 20-14 on Saturday to snap a 12-game Big East losing streak.

Syracuse (4-7, 1-5 Big East), which had lost its previous five games, probably spoiled any chance Connecticut (4-6, 1-4) had of playing in the postseason. The Huskies still have games against Cincinnati and No. 10 Louisville and need to win both for the required six victories.

Last year, the Huskies embarrassed Syracuse on national television on a rainy Friday night. Backup quarterback D.J. Hernandez rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown and the UConn defense forced three Syracuse turnovers in a 26-7 victory.

On this day, the Orange turned the tables, registering five sacks and three interceptions, two by safety Joe Fields, and squashing UConn's ground game.

Connecticut, which entered the game ranked ninth nationally in rushing offense with 206 yards per game, had 70 yards on 39 carries. And freshman Donald Brown, who had gained 199 yards against No. 7 Rutgers and 205 in a double-overtime win a week ago over Pitt, managed just 67 yards on 18 carries against the Orange. Hernandez, now the starter, was held to 23 yards rushing on 14 carries.

When the game was on the line in the third quarter, the Huskies managed just 29 yards of total offense, 16 of it rushing against a defense that was allowing 193 yards rushing and 416 total yards per game to rank 113th of the 119 teams that play in Division I-A.

Syracuse, which led 10-7 at halftime, gained a 17-7 lead midway through the third when Brinkley scored untouched on an 18-yard swing pass to the left. It was the first time the Orange had scored in the third quarter in five games.

Delone Carter, who finished with 115 yards rushing on 16 carries, had a 33-yard run early in the fourth to set up Patrick Shadle's 44-yard field goal.

Hernandez hit Terence Jeffers with a 16-yard touchdown pass with 4 seconds left in the game.

Each team scored on its first possession. The Orange began by driving 86 yards in nine plays. Perry Patterson hit Rice Moss for 13 yards, Mike Williams for 23 and Lavar Lobdell for 25 after a nifty scramble to set up Brinkley's 1-yard TD run.

The Huskies tied it with an impressive 81-yard, 16-play drive on their first possession. All but two of the plays were on the ground, and the two that weren't proved critical.

Just as he was about to be leveled by linebacker Kelvin Smith, Hernandez hit Larry Taylor for 12 yards to the Syracuse 13 on a third-and-11 play, and one play later completed an 8-yard pass to tight end Dan Murray.

After Hernandez was tackled for a 1-yard loss on second-and-goal from the 2, he hit Brown in the right corner of the end zone to tie it at 7-7 with 3:57 left in the first.

Neither offense was able to muster anything the rest of the half as the defenses forced seven straight punts before the Orange capitalized on the first turnover of the game.

After a 53-yard punt by Brendan Carney pinned the Huskies at their own 5, Hernandez's first-down pass over the middle was tipped by defensive back Tanard Jackson and intercepted at the 35 by Nick Chestnut, who returned it 16 yards to set up Shadle's 35-yard field goal with 51 seconds left in the half.