GRABBING THE BULL BY THE HORN
Huskies gain 133 yards on the ground in home win
UConn running back Lyle McCombs avoids a Buffalo tackle in Saturday’s game against the Buffalo Bulls at Rentschler Field. McCombs scored on a two yard touchdown run for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season. KEVIN SCHELLER/The Daily Campus
UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer threw for 227 yards and one touchdown pass in the Huskies 24-17 over the Buffalo Bulls at Rentschler Field Saturday.
The Bulls started the game on offense but after a quick three and out, Buffalo was forced to punt. Whitmer led the Husky offense down the field on UConn's first drive of the game, resulting in a 29 yard field goal from kicker Chad Christen. Buffalo would respond quickly with a 10 play, 75 yard drive which ended with a four-yard touchdown run by Bulls running back Brandon Murie.
Buffalo then caught the Huskies off guard with an onside kick, which was recovered at mid-field by the Bulls. However, the Buffalo offense could not take advantage, going three-and-out on their next possession. With Buffalo leading 7-3 at the start of the second quarter, Whitmer connected with UConn tight end Ryan Griffin on the first play of the quarter.
UConn extended their lead to 17-7 when running back Martin Hyppolite capped off a five play 75 yard drive with a 50 yard rushing touchdown. The rushing touchdown was also Hyppolite's first carry of the season for the Huskies. Head coach Paul Pasqualoni felt that the 50 yard play was one of the highlights of the running game for the afternoon.
"I thought we had a real good play on third and one, that was a run," said Pasqualoni. "I thought that was a really well executed play, it was a big play in the game."
Buffalo went back on offense but UConn safety Ty-Meer Brown would pick off Bull's quarterback Alex Zordich for Brown's first interception of the season. A few drives later, UConn linebacker Sio Moore recovered a fumble at the Buffalo 40 yard line, but the Huskies could not turn the good field position into points. UConn took a 17-7 lead into the locker room at the half and would get the ball to start the second half.
The Huskies traded possession with the Bulls back and forth until the 9:23 mark of the third quarter when UConn running back Lyle McCombs would score a two yard rushing touchdown, for his fourth rushing touchdown on the season. McCombs was happy with running lanes that the Husky offensive line provided him against Buffalo.
"As far as I'm concerned, I think the O-line did a great job at picking guys up," said McCombs. "You got to give credit to the Buffalo defense, their physical and they're not easy to move out of the way."
Buffalo did not go quietly. With time winding down in the third quarter, Zordich and the Bull's offense engineered a six play 86 yard drive which included a 50 yard touchdown run by Murie off a hook and ladder play. UConn's offense could not find the solid rhythm that they found earlier in the game.
"We kind of stalled out a little bit and that's something we want to improve on," said Whitmer. "We just go to maintain that focus throughout the game and put it away."
Zordich did not stop there for Buffalo, completing a 43 yard pass down the field to give the Bull's great field position late in the fourth quarter. Bulls' kicker Patrick Clarke would add a 44 yard field goal with 2:32 left in the game which brought Buffalo within three. Buffalo then turned to the onside kick again, but this time the Huskies recovered and were able to run out the clock to leave the Bulls only 1:27 to either tie or win the game.
UConn's defense would hold for the waning seconds of the game, leaving Whitmer to take over on downs and take a knee to ensure the victory. "There were a couple of opportunities where we could have taken advantage of good field position, but they came back and got us on the trick play," said Pasqualoni. "They fought their way back into and well coached teams will do that."
The Huskies will hit the road to begin the Big East portion of their 2012 schedule. UConn will take on Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey on October 6.
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