Oct. 1, 2004: Cornell Law. Brockington, Defense Lift UConn To 1st Big East Win


made its first

Big East

home game and its first night game at Rentschler Field an auspicious occasion Thursday.


The Huskies gave a sellout crowd of 40,000 plenty to cheer about in a 29-17 victory over Pittsburgh.

A snarling defense, Cornell Brockington's running and three field goals by Matt Nuzie combined to give UConn (4-1, 1-1) its first Big East win.

Quarterback Tyler Palko tried to carry Pitt (2-2, 0-1) with his running and throwing, but it wasn't enough.

``That's a great victory for our football program and for our university,'' UConn coach

Randy Edsall


Brockington rushed for 185 yards on 27 carries, including an 11-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Dan Orlovsky

was 23 of 43 for 237 yards and a touchdown.

Nuzie kicked a career-long 49-yard field goal to end the first half.

``It was a hard game to lose,'' Pitt coach

Walt Harris

said. ``I congratulate UConn. They played good enough to win. We didn't play good enough to win.''

The Huskies sacked Palko (11 of 31, 267 yards) four times and pressured him all game. The defense's contribution also included Justin Perkins' 9-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave UConn a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

``We kind of wanted to prove something,'' said linebacker

Alfred Fincher

, who had a game-high 17 tackles. ``The last time we were on national TV [a 27-7 loss to Boston College on Sept. 17] we didn't play Connecticut football. Hopefully today a lot of people got to see what Connecticut football is all about.''

UConn took a 23-17 lead with 3:28 left in the third quarter on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Orlovsky to Keron Henry.

The Huskies increased the lead to 29-17 on Brockington's 11-yard touchdown run with 5:45 left in the fourth quarter.

That was all the Huskies needed to insure the win.

``The simple fact that it's a conference win, to beat a team in the Big East, we just played our game,'' Perkins said.

The victory was tempered by the loss of defensive end Tyler King, who broke his right leg with 2:03 remaining in the fourth quarter.

King (six tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and a fumble recovery) is scheduled to have surgery today. A family member said he could possibly return in 4-6 weeks, although that might be overly optimistic.

Palko led

the Panthers

in rushing with 49 yards. Pitt's running backs combined for 35 yards on 18 carries.

King recovered a fumble by Palko at the UConn 20 with 14:49 left in the fourth quarter as the Huskies were clinging to a 23-17 lead.

Pitt took a 17-16 lead on Palko's 1-yard touchdown run with 5:44 remaining in the third quarter.

It looked like the Huskies would have a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. But Palko connected with Greg Lee for a 77-yard touchdown on the last play of the quarter. That tied the score 7-7.

UConn took a 10-7 lead on a 24-yard field goal by Nuzie with 5:02 left in the second quarter.

Pitt tied the score again on a 30-yard field goal by Josh Cummings with 19 seconds left. Pitt had first-and-goal at the 10 but UConn's defense was not solely responsible for forcing the Panthers to go for a field goal.

On third-and-12, Harris, rather than take a shot at the end zone, had Palko set up the field goal by taking a knee in the middle of the field.

UConn didn't play it conservatively. The Huskies got a 49-yard field goal from Nuzie on the last play of the first half.

The Huskies got decent field position when freshman Tyvon Branch returned the kickoff 38 yards to the Panthers 49. With 10 seconds remaining, Orlovsky dropped back and completed an 18-yard pass to Henry, who got out of bounds at the 31 with 10 seconds remaining.

After Pitt called two timeouts to try to rattle Nuzie, the sophomore sent the Huskies dancing off to the locker room with a 13-10 halftime lead.

``That gave us a big lift,'' Edsall said.

The emotion carried over to the second half.

``We expected to win,'' Edsall said. ``Our kids believed it. We've got a great bunch of coaches and kids that work together. When you do that and you have talent and you execute and have


and passion and desire, a lot of great things can happen.''