Connecticut Upsets Big East Leader Pittsburgh, Conference Wide Open
UConn (5-4 overall, 2-2 Big East) scored 10 points in a 48-second span of the fourth quarter Thursday night and went on to a stunning 30-28 victory over first-place Pitt (5-4, 3-1) at Rentschler Field. The loss not only kept Pitt from becoming bowl eligible, it also gave all eight Big East teams a mathematical shot at the championship.
Syracuse is in second place at 3-2. The Huskies, who took a 23-21 lead on Dave Teggart's 25-yard field goal with 7:07 remaining, join South Florida and Louisville at 2-2. West Virginia, Rutgers and Cincinnati all follow at 1-2.
Pitt had outscored Syracuse, Rutgers and Louisville by a combined score of 106 to 38 in its first three Big East Conference games, but the Panthers found themselves trailing UConn 13-7 midway through the third quarter. A 75-yard drive changed that, thanks to a one-yard touchdown run by tailback Dion Lewis. Pitt needed just six plays, starting with a 42-yard pass from Tino Sunseri to wide receiver Jon Baldwin, to take a 14-13 lead with 5:27 left in the third.
Pitt increased that lead to 21-13 on a 5-yard TD run by Ray Graham. But the Huskies answered back on the final play of the third quarter, cutting the lead to 21-20 when Nick Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
A fumbled kickoff return led to UConn's 14-yard pass from Zach Frazer to Isiah Moore and a 30-21 lead. Pitt answered with a 20-yard TD pass from Sunseri to Baldwin with 4:35 left, but the Huskies ran out the clock after tailback Jordan Todman (37 carries, 222 yards) picked up three yards on a fourth-and-one from their own 20 with 2:33 remaining.
UConn led 10-7 at halftime despite a turnover on the first play of the game, an interception that led to Pitt's touchdown. The Huskies, in a rare attempt at some razzle dazzle, did not execute a flea flicker play on first-and-10 from their own 32. Frazer handed off cleanly to Todman, but Todman's toss back was low and Frazer had trouble fielding it cleanly. He rolled right and may have been trying to throw the ball away, but Jarred Holley intercepted for Pitt along the sideline at the UConn 48.
Five plays later, Lewis ran four yards for a touchdown and the Panthers led 7-0 with 12:59 left in the first quarter. On the drive, Lewis ran for 12 yards and also picked up 31 on a dump pass that moved the ball to the UConn 4.
The Huskies countered with an 11-play, 83-yard drive that concluded with a 36-yeard TD pass from Frazer to wide receiver Kashif Moore. Todman's 10-yard run on fourth-and-one came one play before the touchdown strike.
UConn took a 10-7 lead on Teggart's 46-yard field goal with 13:37 left in the second quarter. That score came after Jerome Junior's interception halted an 11-play drive by the Panthers, who had moved to the Connecticut 31. It was the first of two interceptions thrown by Pitt quarterback Sunseri in the first half.
By FanHouse correspondent Ken Davis