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UCONN upends WVU in OT, 16-13
East Hartford, CT - The UConn Huskies surprised Big East favorite West Virginia with a tenacious defense that recovered four of seven fumbles and relied on the legs of Jordan Todman with 113 rushing yards and Dave Teggart with three FGs including the game-winner in OT to achieve their first Big East win of the year and knock off West Virginia (5-3, 1-2), for the first time in seven years, 16-13. As for Collegefootballfan.com, we awoke in Europe at 5:30 am , flew eight hours to Newark, NJ and the battled bumper-to-bumper traffic for five hours to get back on track with college football. No newspaper or TV coverage regarding our favorite pastime exists in Germany. God bless the USA! We sat with new friends from Mystic compliments of friend of friends of Mystic Pizza who put us in good seats on the 35-yard line. We sat near passionate UConn fans and one shocked WVU fan. Arriving late because of traffic at the 10:15 mark, we saw the last 20 yards of WR Brad Stark's 53-yard TD run to start the game scoring. With Tyler Bitancurt's extra point, we figured we were just in time to see the rest of the expected onslaught. Despite WVU's upset loss to improving Syracuse a week ago, UConn lost 35-0 the previous week in a shocker to Louisville after the suspension of Junior QB Cody Endres. Senior QB Zach Frazer, whom he'd replaced, stepped back in at center for the balance of the season. We figured the "best" team in the Big east had lots of ground to make up for in the minds of the pollsters, and should roll through the balance of their schedule until the annual Brawl against Pitt. But what do we know? We're just fans.
UConn's defense showed some signs of resistance as play continued, but a 36-yard FG by Bitancurt for a 10-0 lead before the period ended seemed to indicate that Mountaineers were headed in the right direction of an anticipated blow-out. Had the effort to get to this game really been worth it?
The Husky defense kept the host team surprisingly close for the balance of the first half. A fumble forced and recovered by UC LB Sio Moore of Noel Devine ( held to 67 yards) halted the Mountaineers on one drive before they forced WVU to punt on the next. Greg Pugnetti's punt started the Husky O from their own 15. However, the home team was up to the occasion as Frazer engineered a drive to the WVU 22 over the remaining 3:22 of the second period resulting in Dave Teggart's 39-yard FG to cut the lead to 10-3 with only one second remaining. It was UConn's first score since the second quarter of the Rutgers game on October 8.
UConn honored its Big East (National) Champion field hockey team of 1985 in a long-overdue halftime presentation. The soccer Mom's were thrilled to be recognized in front of a crowd of 40,000 at Rentschler Field. Back in their day, the stadium didn't exits and Memorial Stadium rarely filled to capacity at 15,000. The entertaining and energetic Husky Marching Band performed on the field after removing their white ski caps on this seasonably cold October evening with navy blue, plumed capos. The band and UConn student section kept their school spirit up throughout the contest.
UConn's defense played up to their task again in the third period recovering a fumble on a fourth and one on their own 29. Jordan Todman (33 for 113, 1 TD) rushed for 5 yards on the subsequent drive and traveled the last 24 for a touchdown to tie the score at 10-10. WVU move the ball to the UConn 25 on their following possession to regain the lead on Bitancurt's 42-yard FG, 13-10. The score remained the same into the final period.
In the fourth, Sio Moore forced another fumble from QB Geno Smith (22 for 34, 160 yards, 64 yards rushing) and LB Lawrence Wilson recovered on the UConn 45. This turnover resulted with a 26-yarder by Teggart to tie the game once again, 13-13, with 10:48 left in the game. Both defense held, and Greg Pugnetti of WVU and Cole Wagner of UConn did tremendous jobs punting in clutch situations. Both place three of their six punts each within the 20, even placing punts in the coffin corners, perfect for Halloween weekend. Regulation time expired and the teams went into OT. UConn won the toss and elected to play down in front of their spirited, home student section as the Mountaineers got the ball first.
WVU fell back to its 32 after holding call, but they overcame the loss and Ryan Clarke took them from the 16 to a first and goal at the one on three consecutive runs. On the next play, Clarke carried again, but fumbled and Wilson recovered again to thwart the Mountaineers threat in the first OT session. UConn started from the 25 and on four carries, Todman got the ball to the nine where he went down right between the hash marks. From there, Teggart converted his third FG of the day to upset the visitors expected to win the Big east. The celebration was on! West Virginia returns home to Morgantown in two weeks to host Cincinnati, another favorite to challenge in the Big East who got clobbered by Syracuse on Saturday, 31-7. So much for those two. UConn hosts league-leading, 5-3, 3-0 Pitt a week from Thursday, and we plan to be there the night before heading down for our first trip to The Swamp in Gainesville, Florida. Before then though, we hope to have a date with history as we will be in State College, PA to see good old Joe Paterno go for his 400th win at Penn State. If his Nittany Lions defeat Northwestern, He will be the first to reach the 400-win career plateau in FBS history. We hope we will see history being made.
Extra points: It was a windy night in East Hartford. We drove through a couple of rain squalls up the congested Merritt Parkway on the way up. As we approached "The Rent" along with many other late arrivals, we watched a sky-diving team battle the winds to deliver the game ball to the field. My thought, if this was at West Point, they would never let their jumpers go with these conditions. One dive landed about a quarter of a mile from the stadium. One fan remarked, "He just landed on somebody's tailgate party!" A second went to the same vicinity, but I think he must have followed his fellow diver to help him out. During a break in the action during eh first quarter, the West Point Cadet sky-diving team was introduced to the crowd. I know they wouldn't have jumped on an evening like this at West Point. Now we can understand why.
UConn held Noel Devine to 67 yards on 16 rushes. Coming in, he averaged 89.4 yards per game and had four TDs. We saw him run for over 200 yards in a win over Auburn in Morgantown two years ago. As our WVU fan pointed out, having Geno Smith at QB is not the same as having Pat White. White is no longer with the Miami Dolphins who drafted him. We hear that he may be in the Toronto Blue Jays' organization. His brother, Coley, stood on the sideline for WVU. He's listed as a sophomore WR.
WVU lost four of its seven fumbles during the game.
UConn fans near us sitting behind the visitors' bench are certainly passionate for their team. They really get into the game on each and every call. Two "big" games remaining at the Rent - Pitt, of course, but the luster ahs been taken off Cincinnati. We were surprised that they were considered a favorite this year as they just had too many key personnel changes along with the loss of Head coach Brian Kelly. We may have to rethink attending the Pitt game due to logistics to get in and out of there that night to fly to Florida early the next morning. OK , we thought about it. We're going.
What's a shame about the BCS is that two of three undefeated among Boise, TCU, and Utah probably won't be considered for the BCS championship game. What's even more of a shame is that at least one won't be considered because a team from this undeserving Big East will get a big game ahead of any of these. We can say the same about the ACC! The whole system sucks when teams not even in the Top 25 get into the big games before legitimate Top 10 teams get sent elsewhere because o specific conference affiliations. The entire scenario should be scrapped based on what is going to happen this year. It just burns me that when I finally get tickets to and plan to go the Fiesta Bowl, I could see unranked Syracuse getting their butts kicked by somebody. What a memory that will be.
Bring back Rich Rodriguez? He's gone from Ann arbor at the end of this season. Where will he go? Would WVU consider taking him back. As our WVU fan mentioned, he not only got Michigan into trouble with the NCAA, but he did the same to the Mountaineer program. Who would want him as head coach with all the negative controversy he's left behind at these schools. One idea proposed: return to WVU as offensive coordinator? There's probably too much bad blood left since his departure. A lot of Mountaineer fans may be open to it though the way the program is heading under previously popular Bill Stewart.