8:15 PM ET, November 23, 2008
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
TAMPA, Fla. -- South Florida's swarming defense was every bit as tough as Connecticut's Donald Brown figured it would be.
The Bulls slowed down the nation's leading rusher Sunday night, limiting the UConn star to 96 yards on 28 carries and keeping him out of the end zone to end a three-game Big East losing streak with a 17-13 victory.
"Coming in here, we knew they were a good rushing defense," Brown said. "Despite their record in conference, they're a really good team."
Jamar Taylor ran 25 yards for a touchdown, snapping a fourth-quarter tie and helping USF (7-4, 2-4) improve its bowl prospects. Benjamin Williams also scored on a 3-yard run after Dontavia Bogan returned the opening kickoff deep into UConn territory, one of several special teams lapses that hurt the Huskies.
"It's not too hard to figure out or explain the mistakes or missed opportunities. ... We ended up making more mistakes and giving them the short field. We couldn't gain the short field all evening and because of that, we came out on the disappointing end," Connecticut coach Randy Edsall said.
USF finished off the Huskies, stopping a potential go-ahead drive in the closing minutes by forcing a fumble by quarterback Tyler Lorenzen.
Lorenzen tied it 10-all late in third quarter with a 43-yard TD pass to Ellis Gaulden on a flea-flicker play. He answered Taylor's touchdown with a field goal drive that trimmed UConn's deficit to 17-13, then had UConn (7-4, 3-3) on the move again when Lorenzen fumbled just before his knee touched down after he scrambled for a first down on 4th-and-4 inside the USF 30.
"They were relentless. ... I thought they played so hard all the way through," Bulls coach Jim Leavitt said of his defense.
Brown began the night leading the nation in rushing at 153.70 yards per game, but rarely found much running room against a defense determined to redeem itself after being dominated during a 49-16 loss to Rutgers the previous week.
UConn, coming off a 39-14 rout of Syracuse, didn't get anything going offensively until late in the second quarter when USF gambled on fourth-and-1 from its own 45 and Matt Grothe was stopped for no gain on a quarterback sneak.
Lorenzen scrambled for 10 yards on third-and-9, Brown bolted 13 yards around right end and Lorenzen converted another third down with a 7-yard completion to Anthony Sherman before the drive stalled at the USF 4 and the Huskies settled for a field goal that trimmed their deficit to 10-3.
Grothe threw his ninth interception in the past four games, costing USF an opportunity to build onto the lead just before the half. UConn pulled even when Jordan Todman took a handoff from Brown on a reverse before flipping the ball back to Lorenzen, who had Gaulden running all alone down the middle of the field.
The pass hung in the air long enough for USF defenders Nate Allen and Tyller Roberts to close in on the receiver, but Gaulden made the catch between them and twisted away from Allen inside the 5.
"At first, I'm like, `Oh, my God. Where's the ball? When's it coming down?" Gaulden said. "But it finally came down to my hands and I did my best to get in the end zone."
Lorenzen, playing his second game since returning from a broken foot that sidelined him for four games, completed 10 of 24 passes for 119 yards and no interceptions.
Grothe, playing on a sore left ankle that limited his practicing time during the week, was 9-of-18 for 124 yards. He also led USF with 51 yards rushing on five attempts.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-16||6-13|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||0-1|
|TD||12:37||Benjamin Williams 3 Yd Run (Maikon Bonani Kick)||0||7|
|FG||12:57||Maikon Bonani 29 Yd||0||10|
|FG||00:28||Dave Teggart 21 Yd||3||10|
|TD||02:49||Ellis Gaulden 43 Yd Pass From Tyler Lorenzen (Dave Teggart Kick)||10||10|
|TD||12:36||Jamar Taylor 25 Yd Run (Maikon Bonani Kick)||10||17|
|FG||09:19||Dave Teggart 35 Yd||13||17|