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No. 23 Pittsburgh beats UConn 34-10 for bowl bid

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[December 08, 2008]  EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Bill Stull threw for two touchdowns and LaSean McCoy ran for another as Pittsburgh beat Connecticut 34-10 Saturday, giving the Panthers their first nine-win regular season since 1982 and a bid to the Sun Bowl.

RestaurantPittsburgh scored 24 points in the third quarter to blow open a close game in front of officials from the bowl, who said they would offer the Panthers a bid to play in the New Year's Eve game.

The win assures Pitt (9-3, 5-2) of a share of second place in the Big East.

Connecticut finishes the regular season 7-5, and 3-4 in the conference. That should be good enough to send the Huskies to a bowl, possibly the Motor City Bowl, which had a representative at the game. A slot in that game would open up if Ohio State is chosen by a BCS bowl on Sunday.

UConn's Donald Brown ran for 189 yards on 34 carries, assuring he will end the regular season as the nation's leading rusher. His 57-yard run with 4:29 left in the third quarter brought the Huskies to within 13-10.

But Stull responded on the next play, finding Derek Kinder over the middle on a post pattern for a 61-yard touchdown. After an 18-yard UConn punt, Stull hooked up with tight end Nate Byham for a 28-yard score that made it 27-10 with just 8 seconds left in the third.

McCoy had just 29 yards rushing at the half, but burst up the middle for a 47-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter that broke a 3-3 tie. He finished with 95 yards on 24 carries.


Stull had just 24 yards passing at intermission, but finished with 141 yards, completing 10 of 18 passes with one interception.

UConn's Tyler Lorenzen, playing his final home game, completed just 6 of 27 passes for 80 yards and two interceptions. He was replaced by sophomore Zach Frazer at the start of the fourth quarter. Frazer completed three passes, all to Pittsburgh, including a pick that Greg Williams returned for a fourth-quarter touchdown that gave the Panthers their final points.

Three plays after McCoy broke the tie, Greg Williams returned an interception 41-yards to the UConn 7-yard line, after UConn fullback Anthony Sherman fell down on the pattern. That led to the second 21-yard field goal of the day from Conor Lee, his 20th field goal of the season.

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Pittsburgh scored first after Mike Toerper came up the middle to block a UConn punt 7 minutes into the second quarter. The Panthers took over at UConn's 7-yard line, but had to settle for a field goal.

The blocked kick was the 10th of the year for the Panthers, a school record. It was also the sixth time the Huskies have had a punt blocked this season.

UConn took over 6 minutes off the clock on its next drive and Dave Teggart tied the score on a 45-yard field goal. The freshman had earlier missed for the first time in 12-career attempts. His 53-yard attempt in the first quarter fell short and was caught in the endzone by Pitt's Aaron Berry, who returned it 44 yards. Berry also had a fourth-quarter interception that he returned 52 yards.

Pitt lost yards on its first three possessions, and had just 36 yards at the half. Several slips by Stull and McCoy on the frozen field had the Panthers' skill players changing cleats midway through the first quarter.

McCoy has 21 rushing touchdown's this season, just one behind Tony Dorsett's Pitt record.

[Associated Press; By PAT EATON-ROBB]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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