(Saturday, December 6th)
Final Score: (23) Pittsburgh 34, Connecticut 10
East Hartford, CT (Sports Network) - Bill Stull threw for a pair of touchdowns, as the 23rd-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers concluded their regular season with a 34-10 victory over Connecticut.
Stull finished 10-of-18 for 141 yards and had an interception for the Panthers (9-3, 5-2 Big East), who have won four of their last five games and accepted an invitation to play in the Sun Bowl. Pitt will play against a team from the Pac-10 conference in the New Year's Eve game.
"Everything about Pittsburgh right now is a positive. They really bring so much to the table," said Sun Bowl Association football chairman John Folmer. "Running back LeSean McCoy will remind a lot of people of Tony Dorsett, who rushed for 142 yards in the 1975 Sun Bowl for Pittsburgh. Local fans will also remember (head coach) Dave Wannstedt, who spent four seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys."
LeSean McCoy rushed for 95 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown, while Derek Kinder caught four passes for 87 yards and a score in the win.
"We played one of our best games all season," said Pitt linebacker Scott McKillop. "That's one of things that coach Wannstedt always stresses -- try and play your best football at the end of the season. We had a lot of people step up and make plays today. We knew it was going to be a defensive game."
Tyler Lorenzen struggled mightily for the Huskies (7-5, 3-4), who have dropped three of four. He was a miserable 6-of-27 passing for 80 yards with two interceptions and was benched at the start of the fourth quarter in favor of Zach Frazer, who didn't fare any better, going 0-for-4 with three interceptions. Lorenzen returned later in the frame after Frazer's horrid performance.
"It just sucks, there is no doubt about it," said Lorenzen. "This is not how we pictured it to happen, but then again it's sports. It is not like we are out there shooting at each other; it is not like we are at war. Some games you play great and you win and some games you play bad and you lose. Today was one of those days where we lost and we didn't make the plays we needed to."
Donald Brown was the lone bright spot for UConn, registering 189 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries.
Stingy defense highlighted the opening frame. Pitt was unable to move the chains on its first three possessions, generating a frosty minus-10 yards of total of offense, and had just one first down and five yards in the quarter.
The Panthers capitalized on a big play from their special teams unit to get on the board early in the second stanza. Michael Toerper came straight up the middle, blocking Desi Cullen's punt, and Pitt got the ball at the UConn seven.
UConn's defense held and a 21-yard Conor Lee field goal gave Pitt a 3-0 lead. Dave Teggart, whose 53-yarder came up short in the first quarter, drilled a 45-yard field goal to tie the game with 5:30 remaining in the half.
The Panthers turned the ball over on their next two series, but UConn couldn't take advantage, and the clubs went into halftime deadlocked at three.
Limited to just 36 yards in the first half, Pitt's offense exploded for 24 points in the third quarter. Stull led the Panthers on a six-play, 87-yard drive that was capped by McCoy's 47-yard touchdown.
Lorenzen was intercepted by Greg Williams on the ensuing drive, and he rumbled 41 yards before being knocked out of bounds at the UConn 6. Another 21-yard field goal from Lee gave Pitt a 10-point edge with 6:24 to go in the frame.
UConn answered less than two minutes later on a 57-yard TD run by Brown. The Panthers, though, needed only 18 seconds and one play to find the end zone. After Conredge Collins returned the kickoff to his 39, Stull connected with Kinder for the score.
Stull threw a 28-yard strike to Nate Byham to make it 27-10 with eight seconds to play left in the quarter.
A 20-yard interception return by Williams capped the scoring with 6:46 remaining in the game.
Marcus Easley had 52 yards on two receptions for UConn...Pitt recorded just nine first downs...UConn outgained the Panthers, 305-228...The Panthers will make their third appearance in the Sun Bowl.
12/06 21:18:38 ET