for this game

UConn upsets South Florida to remain first in Big East

Oct 28, 2007 - 2:02 AM EAST HARTFORD, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Andre Dixon and Connecticut proved once again that there may be a new top dog in the Big East Conference.

Dixon rushed for 167 yards and the unranked Huskies forced a pair of crucial turnovers en route to a 22-15 upset of No. 11 South Florida on Saturday.

It was the second straight thrilling chapter in what could turn out to be a storybook season for Connecticut (7-1, 3-0 Big East), which remained atop the conference standings.

The Huskies, who went just 1-6 in conference play last year, defeated Louisville here last week in a contest marred by a questionable touchdown on a punt return.

Eight days later, UConn won in another nail-biter, as South Florida nearly rallied from a 16-0 halftime deficit.

"(The win) was great for all the people that are surrounded with the program, the people of this state, and for the people who had the vision for this program to allow this to happen," said Huskies coach Randy Edsall, who has UConn off to its best start since 1998.

The victory marked the first time in school history that the Huskies defeated a ranked opponent.

"There are a lot of people that share in the excitement and joy of what is happening in that locker room," said Edsall, who coached his 100th career game at UConn. "But when I say excitement and joy, it's a very business-like locker room.

"The guys really understand that there were some things that did get accomplished tonight, but that's not going to help us next week."

Despite outplaying the favored Bulls (6-2, 1-2) throughout the rain-soaked contest, the Huskies were forced to make a late defensive stand to preserve the landmark victory.

Matt Grothe directed South Florida on a 14-play drive down to the UConn 1-yard line with just under two minutes remaining.

But after the Bulls were stuffed on 2nd-and-goal, Grothe was tackled for a 10-yard loss by linebacker Greg Robinson Jr. on third down.

Grothe's desperation pass on the following play sailed well over its intended target, allowing UConn to kneel out the remaining time on the clock.

A wild celebration ensued once the game clock ran out, as many of the 40,000 fans at Rentschler Field stormed the field.

"We got the win, and that's all that concerns us," Huskies quarterback Tyler Lorenzen said. "We accomplished our goals and what we intended to do, and it was a good feeling to see everyone going crazy."

The Huskies held on thanks largely in part to Dixon, who carried the ball 32 times. Lorenzen also delivered an efficient performance, completing 13-of-25 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown.

"I helped us get this win, so it feels good," Dixon said. "I don't think UConn has ever had the field rushed before, so this feels especially good."

"I didn't realize (Dixon) had that many yards, and he'll probably be a little sore and things," Edsall added. "I thought the offensive line did a pretty good job."

Already owning a 9-0 lead, UConn built a 16-point advantage with 8:25 left in the first half when linebacker Scott Lutrus intercepted Grothe and reeled off a 23-yard return for a TD.

"They've got a good defense," Grothe said. "I've got to hand it to them. They played well. They did well enough to win the game."

The Bulls roared back in the second half, however, as Grothe raced for a 10-yard TD in the third quarter and Delbert Alvarado drilled a pair of fourth-quarter field goals to cut the deficit to 19-15.

Alvarado's second field goal followed a pair of critical errors by tight end Cedric Hill, who was flagged for a holding penalty that negated a two-yard TD run on 1st-and-goal.

Three plays later, Hill dropped a potential game-tying scoring toss from Grothe, the most glaring of USF's multiple mistakes.

"(The dropped passes) are not disappointing," Grothe said. "It's going to happen. It was raining out there, and it's just a part of football."

Tony Ciaravino booted a 20-yard field goal to give the Huskies a 22-15 edge with 5:19 remaining, and UConn's defense held on from there.

"We wasted too many opportunities," USF coach Jim Leavitt said. "We're proud of our guys. We battled our tails off. You didn't see any quit in this football team."

Grothe completed 16-of-30 passes for 189 yards and two interceptions. He also did the majority of the running for the Bulls, rushing for 146 yards on 25 carries.