EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Tim Brown
scored on an 81-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left to give
Rutgers an improbable 28-24 win over Connecticut, handing the Huskies
their second straight emotional defeat following the death of
cornerback Jasper Howard.
Brown, one of Howard's best friends
growing up in Miami, got behind cornerback Robert McClain, just after
UConn had scored to take the lead. He finished the game with 162 yards
receiving and two touchdowns.
It was the first conference win of
the season for Rutgers (6-2, 1-2 Big East) and the second consecutive
defeat for Connecticut (4-4, 2-2) since Howard was stabbed to death
outside a school dance on Oct. 18.
Backup quarterback Zac Frazer threw
for 333 yards and a touchdown for Connecticut, leading UConn on two
fourth-quarter drives after they trailed 21-10.
UConn's Marcus Easley cut the lead to
21-17 when he caught a pass over the middle, bounced off linebacker
Ryan D'Imperio and went in for a 32-yard touchdown with just over 10
minutes left. It was Easley's fourth straight game with a touchdown
after going without a score in the first 26 games of his college
The Huskies tried an unorthodox
two-point conversion, hitting tackle Mike Ryan on what was supposed to
be a lateral screen. The 320-pound lineman dove into the end zone,
stretching the ball over the left pylon. But Ryan was ruled an
ineligible receiver, and UConn had to settle for an extra point after
Connecticut got the ball back for a
final time with just under 3 1/2 minutes left. A 31-yard diving catch
by Michael Smith got the ball into Rutgers' territory, and a 32-yard
catch by Kashif Moore on fourth down got the Huskies in scoring
position. When Jordan Todman ran it in from 2 yards out on another
fourth down with 38 seconds to go, the home crowd erupted, thinking the
Huskies had completed the comeback.
There were numerous tributes to
Howard before the game and fans lined up three deep to greet the
Huskies as they made their way into the stadium wearing T-shirts with
his number "6" on it.
But much of the emotion seemed to
drain from the building after Rutgers Delvin McCourty took the opening
kickoff back 98 yards for a touchdown.
A week ago West Virginia's Tavon Austin went 98 yards with the opening kick in another 28-24 UConn loss.
Freshman quarterback Tom Savage threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns for Rutgers in his first Big East road game.
Connecticut quarterback Cody Endres
went down with just over 6 minutes left in the first quarter, when he
was driven down onto his left shoulder by Rutgers Blair Bines. He spent
the rest of the game wearing a sling on the sideline and is expected to
have surgery on Sunday.
Frazer who lost his job to Endres
after he suffered a knee injury in the second game of the season,
completed 21 of 46 passes, but also threw three interceptions.
Joe Lefeged's interception set up a seven-play, 81-yard Rutgers drive that ended with Brown's first touchdown catch, a 37-yarder.
Robby Frey brought the crowd back
into the game by taking the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown,
cutting across the field behind the blocking of Todman and diving into
the end zone.
But UConn senior cornerback Robert
McClain limped off the field late in the second quarter, leaving the
Huskies with three red-shirt freshmen in the secondary.
Savage took advantage, finding Mark
Harrison over the middle for a 20-yard touchdown that made it 21-10 at
the half. McClain returned in the second half.
UConn held Rutgers to 240 total yards, before Brown's big catch.
UConn's Dave Teggart had a 37-yard
field goal in the first quarter, but missed a 36-yarder and a 49-yarder
wide left just before halftime.