Huskies hold on to win major upset, shock bulls
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Darius Butler pointed to the stands as the final whistle blew, waving the fans to come down to the field and join in on the celebration.
And what a celebration it was, with the Huskies upsetting No. 11 South Florida 22-15 at Rentschler Field.
"You're allowed to celebrate a little bit," said Huskies head coach Randy Edsall. "You won't hear me talk about it more after tomorrow, but it's a special moment."
This is the Huskies (7-1, 3-0 Big East) first win over a ranked opponent in school history, and if it wasn't for a spectacular goal line stand with the game on the line, the Huskies could be hanging their heads after a strong South Florida (6-2, 1-2) comeback.
But it's the Bulls who are on a low. Coming off a 30-27 loss to Rutgers last week, South Florida has now lost two in a row, and Huskies linebacker Greg Robinson wanted to make sure of it.
Robinson sacked South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe, who was attempting to run a bootleg into the end zone.
Grothe's fourth down pass was long into the back right of the endzone, leaving 50 seconds on the clock -- enough time for two kneel downs to seal the win.
"We have been practicing all week that he is an [elusive] quarterback," Robinson said. "You kind of got that feeling that they were going to try [the bootleg] at the end of the game when it means something."
When Grothe ran backwards, UConn defenders blocked his path. He then turned back to the line of scrimmage when Robinson game from behind and got the sack.
The play was just a microcosm of the entire game for the Bulls, as the Huskies defense seemed to smother almost every one of their efforts to get back into the game.
"We struggled tonight [on offense]," Grothe said. "[UConn] got a good defense. I got to hand it to them."
The momentum seemed to be leaning toward the South Florida sideline after a safety gave them two points and the ball back. On the ensuing possession, Grothe took over the offense, running for 63 yards on the drive, which was capped off with his 10-yard score to make the game close again at 16-9.
Before that drive, it seemed the Huskies had all the momentum in the world, as they led 9-0 on a touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler Lorenzen to tight end Steve Brouse with 9 minutes left in the first half.
"They moved the ball on us in the first half extremely well," said South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt. "We didn't play very good defense ... that I promise you."
Leavitt added that the Bulls didn't play great of offense either, thanks in part to Huskies linebacker Scott Lutrus, who had an interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Scott Lutrus, who ran in from 23 yards out.
Defensive end Julius Williams assisted on the interception with a tip that deflected the pass to Lutrus.
"I don't know if I would have been in the right position or not, but thanks to Julius -- he tipped it." Lutrus said. "I was just right there."
With all the help on defense, all the job was for Lorenzen and the Huskies offense was to not make mistakes, and scoring a little success on the running game wouldn't hurt either.
Dixon's stats don't include any scores, but he did all he could to give the Huskies the edge they needed.
He got the rushing attack off to a quick start when he took his first carry 19 yards, en route to 42 yards on UConn's first drive of the game, which ended on a Tony Ciaravino 22-yard field goal.
Dixon's day was only beginning, as he ended the game with 210 yards -- 168 on the ground on 32 carries.
"[Andre] just played hard," Edsall said. "He was Andre."
"Andre" just said he was doing his job, fulfilling his role.
"Whenever they want me to get the ball, whenever they want me to perform, I'm just going to do my best every time," Dixon said, adding that he didn't know he carried the ball so many times.
PLAYER OF THE GAME - Andre Dixon, running back, UConn
Dixon carried the ball 32 times for 168 yards, and seemed to always give the Huskies offense the shot they needed to move the ball downfield.
Dixon, who missed two games at the start of the season due to a suspension, has not disappointed in this starts this season, giving the Huskies a bounce to their step in the running game, something they sometimes do not get from running back Donald Brown, who is more of a between-the-tackles back.
PLAY OF THE GAME - Fourth quarter goal line stand
With the game on the line and elusive quarterback Matt Grothe under center for the Bulls, Greg Robinson sacked Grothe with less than two minutes left at the Huskies three-yard line. The next play was an incomplete pass on fourth down to turn the ball over on downs.
UConn comes back home to face Rutgers Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. Rutgers comes off a loss to West Virginia.
South Florida hosts Cincinnati Nov. 3.