Scores
INTERNATIONAL BOWL

Final

Buffalo 20

(8-6)

Connecticut 38

(8-5)

Coverage: ESPN2

12:00 PM ET, January 3, 2009

1 2 3 4 T
BUFF 3 17 0 020
CONN 7 10 7 1438

Top Performers

Passing: D. Willy (BUFF) - 213 YDS, 1 INT

Rushing: D. Brown (CONN) - 29 CAR, 261 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: N. Roosevelt (BUFF) - 8 REC, 90 YDS

Draft-bound Brown steps up big as UConn thwarts Buffalo 

Associated Press

TORONTO -- Connecticut's Donald Brown showed he has nothing left to prove at the college level.

Brown ran for a career-best 261 yards in his final college game, helping the fumble-prone Huskies overcome a mistake-filled first half and defeat Buffalo 38-20 in the International Bowl on Saturday.

Bennett: Brown impresses

Huskies running back Donald Brown again displayed the will and the way as one of the nation's top running backs -- despite his absence from the Doak Walker Award's finalist list. Blog

After becoming the 14th player in major college history to run for 2,000 yards in a season, the junior running back broke the bad news to UConn fans.

"OK, tell them, bud," coach Randy Edsall said, slapping Brown on the back at the postgame interview table.

"I'm not coming back," Brown said. "I'm going to pursue the NFL."

He then apologized for saying three weeks ago that he planned to return to Connecticut for his senior season.

The nation's leading rusher said he made the commitment to return to stop speculation and negate a potential distraction for his team heading into the game at Toronto.

Fast Facts

• Connecticut rallied from a 20-17 halftime deficit to pick up its second bowl victory in school history.

• UConn turned the ball over five times in the first half -- all fumbles -- after committing seven total first-half turnovers during the regular season. Connecticut did not turn the ball over in the second half.

• The Huskies improved their record in bowls to 2-1, with both wins coming against the MAC after they beat Toledo in the 2004 Motor City Bowl. It was Buffalo's first bowl appearance.

• Connecticut's Donald Brown rushed for a career-high 261 yards, giving him 2,083 yards on the season. Brown is the 15th FBS running back to eclipse the 2,000 yard mark in a season and the second Big East running back to do so (Ray Rice in 2007).

-- ESPN research

"I apologize for quote, unquote lying, but I did it to protect my team," Brown said. "They mean the world to me, so I'm willing to put my neck on the line for them."

He proved that in the first half against the Bulls, when he had 208 yards rushing -- 6 short of matching a career best -- and kept the Huskies in a game. UConn turned the ball over five times in the first 30 minutes.

Brown scored on a 45-yard run and then added a career-best 75-yarder to set up quarterback Tyler Lorenzen's touchdown run.

Lorenzen then put the Huskies ahead for good 10 minutes into the third quarter by completing his first pass, a 4-yarder to tight end Steve Brouse for a 24-20 lead.

In overcoming a 20-10 deficit, the Huskies (8-5) won their second of three bowl appearances since joining the Big East in 2004.

The Mid-American champion Bulls (8-6) had their breakout season under coach Turner Gill end with a loss in their bowl debut. Buffalo scored all its points off turnovers.

Gill wasn't too disappointed for a team that registered its first winning season since 1996 and orchestrated one of the most monumental turnarounds in college football. The Bulls were 10-69 in seven seasons prior to Gill's arrival three years ago.

"Obviously, we didn't come out on the right end of it, but I'm still going to have a smile on my face. I'm so proud of this football team," Gill said. "This isn't going to be a one-year wonder. I do believe we're going to be vying for championships year after year."

The Huskies defense -- ranked 10th in the nation in yards allowed -- played to its stout reputation, containing a Bulls offense that had produced a school-record 404 points. UConn limited Buffalo to 237 yards offense and 10 first downs -- and only five through three quarters.

Linebacker Dahna Deleston dealt the final blow, intercepting Drew Willy's pass intended for Naaman Roosevelt at the goal line and returning it 100 yards for a touchdown.

Deleston was so exhausted after matching the school's longest interception return he collapsed in the end zone.

Brown, by comparison, was still fresh after being held out for the most of the final quarter with the game in hand. He finished with 29 carries.

Edsall's only disappointment in losing Brown to the NFL was a belief the running back didn't get enough recognition for his achievements this season.

"It's just a shame that the people in Connecticut won't get one more year to see him play, and the people around the nation who missed out on honoring this kid for what he did this year," Edsall said, his voice beginning to tremble with emotion. "I told him I'll be his biggest fan as he moves forward. I love the kid to death and I know he's going to be very successful."

Edsall said the next step is for Brown to fill out an application to submit to the NFL, a process required by all juniors requesting to enter the draft.

Brown ends this season with 2,083 yards rushing -- the 11th best total in college football's top division -- and he set a school record with 18 TDs.

The game didn't start well for UConn, a team that looked very much like the one that committed five turnovers in a regular season-ending 34-10 loss to Pittsburgh.

Buffalo's Ray Anthony Long recovered Jasper Howard's muffed punt in the end zone. Starks' score came after another Huskies' miscue.

Robbie Frey had a kickoff go off his hand and into the end zone. Rather than downing the ball for what would've been a touchback, Frey ran the ball out and had it jarred loose by Justin Winters and recovered by Buffalo's John Syty at the UConn 4.

When UConn stopped helping the Bulls, Buffalo couldn't get it done on its own.

"I wish we could have done more on offense," Willy said. "They're a good defense, I'll give it to them. But we left some plays on the field."

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Team Stat Comparison

 
BUFF
CONN
1st Downs1019
Total Yards237407
Passing21349
Rushing24358
Penalties5-253-29
3rd Down Conversions2-174-9
4th Down Conversions1-10-0
Turnovers15
Possession33:0626:54

Passing Leaders

BuffaloC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Willy29/432135.001
ConnecticutC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Lorenzen4/6498.210

Rushing Leaders

BuffaloCARYDSAVGTDLG
Starks13251.919
Thermilus351.703
ConnecticutCARYDSAVGTDLG
Brown292619.0175
Todman7628.9022

Receiving Leaders

BuffaloRECYDSAVGTDLG
Roosevelt89011.3029
Hamlin45413.5038
ConnecticutRECYDSAVGTDLG
Moore11818.0018
Butler11616.0016

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERBUFFCONN
FG04:26A.J. Principe 38 Yd 30
TD04:07Donald Brown 45 Yd Run (Dave Teggart Kick) 37
SECOND QUARTERBUFFCONN
FG14:11Dave Teggart 32 Yd 310
TD11:36Ray Anthony Long Recovered Fumble In End Zone (A.J. Principe Kick) 1010
FG08:22A.J. Principe 29 Yd 1310
TD07:55James Starks 4 Yd Run (A.J. Principe Kick) 2010
TD04:01Tyler Lorenzen 13 Yd Run (Dave Teggart Kick) 2017
THIRD QUARTERBUFFCONN
TD05:22Steve Brouse 4 Yd Pass From Tyler Lorenzen (Dave Teggart Kick) 2024
FOURTH QUARTERBUFFCONN
TD04:44Tyler Lorenzen 15 Yd Run (Dave Teggart Kick) 2031
TD02:15Dahna Deleston 100 Yd Interception Return (Dave Teggart Kick) 2038