BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WTNH) - The Connecticut Huskies beat the South Carolina Gamecocks in thePapajohns.com Bowl 20-7.
The University of Connecticut football team nearly shutout SouthCarolina earning their first win over a Southeastern Conferenceopponent in program history in front of a crowd of 45,254 at LegionField; a Papajohns.com Bowl record attendance.
"I've just got so much emotion," UConn Head Coach Randy Edsallafter the Papajohns.com Bowl game to his team. "Because what youguys have been through, what you've done, it's special. Guys, thisis something you're going to remember for the rest of yourlife."
This is UConn's second-straight and third overall bowlvictory.
The Huskies shut out South Carolina in the first three quartersof the game and have shut out their bowl opponents in nine of 16quarters played.
Connecticut now finishes their season with an 8-5 record whileSouth Carolina drops to 7-6 on the season.
"It feels great," said UConn Lineman Zach Hurd. "You know it'sbeen a really long season and we've been through a lot as a team.And, you know, we wanted to come down here and show the nation whatthe Big East is all about; what UConn is all about."
According to UConnHuskies.com, with his 126 yards on theday, senior tailback and Fred Sington Most Vaulable Player AndreDixon (New Brunswick, N.J.) reached the 1,000-yard mark for theseason becoming the 12th running back in UConn history to reach themark and joining teammate Jordan Todman (North Dartmouth, Mass.)who accomplished the feat earlier in the season. Todman finishedthe day with 36 yards.
This is the first time in UConn history that two running backshave rushed for over 1,000 yards in the same season. They joinNevada and Georgia Tech as NCAA Division-I teams that have at leasttwo athletes that have rushed for over 1,000 yards during the 2009season.
Junior quarterback Zach Frazer (Mechnicsburg, Pa.) was 9 of 21in the air for 106 yards and connected with sophomore Kashif Moore(Burlington, N.J.) two times for 40 yards and a touchdown.
"It means a lot," said Frazer, following the Papajohns.com Bowlwin. "Not only emotionally, just everything. We've been through alot this year and to just end it this way with a victory, it meansa lot."
Stephen Garcia led South Carolina by passing for 129 yards ona 16 for 38 effort also rushing for 56 yards on the day. AlshonJeffrey grabbed three passes for 28 yards for the Gamecocks.
The Huskies were the first to get on the board after anunbelievable one-handed 37-yard grab by Kashif Moore who tiptoedalong the sidelines and extended into the endzone to put theHuskies up with 6:31 remaining in the first quarter.
"For us to come out here and get a win against USC, that was ourgoal, to just come out here and win," said Moore after Saturday'swin.
South Carolina decided to attempt a fourth and short at its own32-yard line but senior Lindsey Witten (Cleveland, Ohio) stepped upand stopped the rush as the Huskies took over in Gamecockterritory. UConn got the ball down to the 16-yard line but settledfor a 33-yard field goal by sophomore Dave Teggart (Northborough,Mass.) to improve their lead to 10-0.
Teggart boosted the lead to 13-0 in the second quarter with 8:26remaining in the game connecting on his second field goal of thegame, a 44-yard boot, setting a new Papajohns.com Bowl record.Later in the quarter, South Carolina earned their first first downof the game with 7:37 left in the half. They only managed fourfirst downs in the entire first half for a net of 84 yards.
After USC fumbled at their own 35-yard line, Dixon used theopportunity to record his first touchdown of the day, a 10-yard runto boost the Huskies lead to 20 with 13:12 remaining in the fourthquarter. Dixon’s TD capped a 3:53 minute, nine play 35-yarddrive.
The Gamecocks got on the board with 3:24 remaining in the gamecapitalizing on a blocked punt and scoring on a two-play 40-yarddrive. But senior Alex Molina (Waterford, Conn.) recovered theonside kick for the Huskies as UConn ran out the clock.
At the end of the game, the UConn Huskies could be seen passingoff the #6 jersey to commemorate CB Jasper Howard, 20, who diedafter an on-campus stabbing back in October.
"You see what can be accomplished. If you have that closedfist, you know, it's powerful. And, that's what we did," said CoachEdsall. "We just had that closed fist and hung together...stucktogether and no one can penetrate that."
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