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Rutgers Continues Skid with 28-17 Loss To UConn

Rutgers Kroft caught a TD pass from J.T. Tartacoff after a faked field goal in the first quarter.
Rutgers Kroft caught a TD pass from J.T. Tartacoff after a faked field goal in the first quarter. (Rutgers Athletics)

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood says he doesn’t believe momentum can carry over from one football game to another.

But after starting the season 4-1, his Scarlet Knights (5-6, 2-5 American Athletic Conference) seem to be picking up speed while going downhill. They are 1-5 in their last six games and lost Saturday for the third straight week, falling 28-17 at Connecticut (2-9, 2-5).

“We don’t look at it in terms of five losses in six games,” Flood said. “Just like I wouldn’t look at it in terms of five wins in six games. I don’t believe in week-to-week momentum in football. I don’t think it exists. If it did exist, then the team we played, it would have been hard for them to win the last two games.”

Senior Chas Dodd, making his first start of the season for Rutgers threw for 286 yards and a touchdown. But he also threw two interceptions to UConn cornerback Taylor Mack, including one on the Husky 19-yard line with just 2 minutes left to end any hopes of a comeback.

The Huskies have now won two straight after losing their first nine.

“Coach is always saying we need momentum, carry momentum, so that is what we were trying to do,” Mack said. “And we came out here and did it.”

UConn quarterback Casey Cochran, making just his third start, completed almost 76 percent of his passes. The redshirt freshman threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns and Max DeLorenzo rushed for two scores for UConn.

DeLorenzo’s second touchdown run, from a yard out, put the Huskies in front 21-17 in the fourth quarter. Cochran then led UConn on a 12-play, 56-yard drive on their next possession, with a 3-yard touchdown pass to freshman Brian Lemelle.

“It piles up after a while,” said Rutgers linebacker Kevin Snyder. “We had them on the ground pretty well and we played hard, but we just couldn’t get off the field on third down.”

UConn converted nine of its 15 third-down attempts.

The Huskies led 14-10 at the half, its first halftime lead since it led Michigan in September — a game the Huskies lost 24-21.

But Dodd, who got the start over an ineffective Gary Nova, helped put Rutgers back in front in the third quarter. He found Quron Pratt down the left sideline for an 84-yard completion, the longest play of the season for the Scarlet Knights. That set up a 3-yard touchdown run from Justin Goodwin.

“”I felt like I played OK,” Dodd said. “There was obviously some things in there I wish I had done better. But at the end of the day, we didn’t get the “W” and all that is irrelevant.”

Connecticut got a big play on its next possession. A screen pass from Cochran to Deshon Foxx went for 41 yards, setting up DeLorenzo’s touchdown run. Foxx caught nine balls for 117 yards.

Connecticut had not won a home game in more than a year, since beating Pitt on Nov. 9, 2012.

“We’re starting to put it all together,” said Foxx. “We’ve got a quarterback who is getting us the ball, running backs that are making plays and DBs and a defense that is making plays.”

Rutgers scored first. The Scarlet Knights took the opening drive to the UConn 10-yard line then faked a 27-yard field goal. Holder J.T Tartacoff threw the ball into the back of the end zone where tight end Tyler Croft wrestled it from UConn defensive back Obi Melifonwu for a touchdown.

UConn responded with an eight-play, 79-yard drive. Cochran hit five of six passes, including an 18-yard throw over the middle to freshman receiver Dhameer Bradley, the first touchdown catch of Bradley’s college career.

Pratt was stripped of the ball on the kickoff return, the first of three Rutgers turnovers. UConn scored five plays later on a 12-yard run by DeLorenzo.

Cochran, who was 25 of 33 for the game, had just one incomplete pass in the first quarter, hitting five different receivers.

Rutgers appeared to have tied the game on a 26-yard touchdown pass to Ruhann Peele, but that was called back by a hands to the face penalty on Chris Muller.

The Scarlet Knights had the ball for more than 6 minutes on a 16-play drive that ended with a 34-yard field goal just before the half.

“Once we get back to Piscataway and regroup and look at the film, we’ll be able to bounce back,” said receiver Brandon Coleman, who caught just two balls for 29 yards.

Because of conference realignment, this was the last scheduled game between the two programs, which have played 33 times since 1940. The Scarlet Knights, had won six of the last eight, and still hold a 22-11 advantage.

“They are going off to the Big Ten and we’re just happy we can send them off with a loss,” said Mack.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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