Huskies Overcome Errors To Beat Bulls
by Mike Mitchell
January 3, 2009
Donald Brown rushed 29 times for 261 yards and a touchdown to help Connecticut overcome five first-half turnovers and defeat Buffalo 38-20 in the International Bowl.
The Big East has won all three International Bowls which matches the conference against a team from the MAC. Buffalo was the first MAC champion to play in this game as it made its first bowl appearance.
The Huskies muffed two punts and a kickoff in the first half, and even Brown got into the act with one of UConn's two lost fumbles.
In a span of less than four minutes during the second quarter, Buffalo scored 17 points off Connecticut mistakes to grab a 20-10 lead.
With 11:30 to play in the first half, Ray Anthony Long recovered a fumbled return in the end zone to tie the game at 10-10. QB Tyler Lorenezen fumbled on the second play of UConn's next possession to set up A.J. Principe's second field goal of the game and put Buffalo ahead 13-10. Robbie Frey fumbled the following kickoff return to put the Bulls in business at the Huskies' 4-yard line, and James Starks ran for the touchdown on the next play for a 20-10 lead with 7:47 still remaining in the half.
Lorenzen's 13-yard touchdown run drew the Huskies to within 20-17 at the break.
The second half was all Connecticut as Buffalo's first three possessions all failed to generate a single first down. A rare pass by Lorenzen found Steve Brouse for a 4-yard touchdown and a 24-20 UConn lead.with 5:22 to go in the 3rd quarter. Lorenzen threw just 6 passes all day, completing 4 for 49 yards.
With 4:38 left in the game, Lorenzen scored on a 15-yard run around left end to build a 31-20 lead.
The Bulls tried to mount a comeback and marched all the way from their 8 to the UConn 5, but Drew Willy's pass was intercepted by Dahna Deleston and returned 100 yards to make it 38-20.
Connecticut was making back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time in school history. The Huskies improved their bowl record to 2-1 while finishing the season with an 8-5 record. UConn started the season 5-0 before losing five of its last seven games.
Buffalo closed 6-1 after starting 2-4. The Bulls played in a record four overtime games and went 3-1 in those contests. Buffalo captured its first MAC title in Turner Gill's third season as head coach, completing a turnaround from perennial doormat to conference champ. The Bulls stunned undefeated Ball State 42-24 in the MAC championship game.
These teams have met 27 times with Connecticut leading the series 15-12. Buffalo's first non-conference win as a FBS member came in 2001 against the Huskies, 37-30 in Storrs. UConn has won four consecutive meetings since that 2001 encounter.
Brown entered the game as national leader in rushing (151.8 ypg). With his bowl yardage included, Brown finished the season with 2,083 yards to become just the 15th FBS running back to pass the 2,000-yard mark in a single season. He had at least 100 yards in 11 of the Huskies’ 13 games.