DURHAM, N.C. – Quarterback Tyler Lorenzen accounted for 354 yards of total offense to lead Connecticut (1-0) to a 45-14 victory over Duke (0-1) Saturday afternoon at Wallace Wade Stadium. After falling behind, 14-8, in the second quarter, Connecticut scored 37 unanswered points to close the game.
The game started well for Duke. After an illegal procedure penalty to open the game to force a first-and-15, Thaddeus Lewis completed a 53-yard pass on a post pattern to Eron Riley. The drive was capped by a six-yard touchdown pass to the right corner of the end zone to sophomore fullback Brandon King. Lewis opened on four-of-five passing for 73 yards during the drive that put Duke ahead, 7-0.
UConn responded on the next drive, going 56 yards on seven plays before kicking a career-long 30-yard field goal to make the score, 7-3, with 11:22 remaining. The versatile Lorenzen rushed for 31 and threw for 17 yards on the drive, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
The Huskies clawed closer after Duke’s Lewis was sacked and fumbled. The ball squirted into the end zone before Blue Devil senior TE Nick Stefanow recovered the ball to give UConn a safety and change the score to 7-5.
UConn’s Robert Vaughn returned an interception to the Duke 17-yard line with 12:22 left in the second quarter. The Huskies gained seven yards on three plays before Tony Ciaravino booted a 27-yard field goal to give the Huskies their first lead, 8-7, with 10:55 remaining.
On the ensuing kickoff, junior Jabari Marshall gave the lead back to Duke with a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 10:42 left in the second quarter. Marshall broke free through the middle and outran several Husky defenders down the left sideline for the score. Joe Surgan added the extra point to change the scoreboard to 14-8.
Ciaravino drilled a 19-yard field goal that capped a sustained UConn drive (17 plays, 83 yards) to end the first half. Lorenzen completed a key third-and-18 play with a 17-yard pass to Larry Taylor. After being stood up by the interior of the Duke defense, Lorenzen then spun right out of the pile to convert the fourth-and-one play from the Duke 28-yard line to keep the drive going. Seven plays later after the field goal, UConn pulled within three points at 14-11 with just five seconds on the clock.
Despite being outgained, 227-115 yards, Duke led by three points at halftime. UConn also controlled the clock in the opening half, holding the ball for 20:48 to Duke’s 9:12. The trend continued with the Huskies keeping the ball for 35:43 during the game.
The Huskies wasted no time to open the second half, scoring on a four-play, 79-yard drive to take an 18-14 lead with 13:09 remaining in the third quarter. Lorenzen connected with D.J. Hernandez on a 57-yard strike down the right sideline for the score.
UConn added to its lead on a two-yard TD pass from Lorenzen to Steve Brouse with 1:21 left in the third quarter. The extra point made it 25-14. The score was set up by a 41-yard completion from Lorenzen to Brad Kanuch two plays earlier to put the ball at the Duke one-yard line.
With his team down 11 points, junior LB Charles Robinson kept Duke’s hopes alive by registering his first career interception with 13:33 left in the game. The pick gave Duke the ball at its own 30-yard line. However, the Blue Devils could not move the football and punted after three plays.
Following a Lewis interception, Donald Brown had a 25–yard TD run to put UConn up 31-14. The extra point attempt was blocked by Duke’s Vince Oghobaase to keep the margin at 17 points.
The Huskies added two more scores – a Lou Allen 11-yard run and a 36-yard interception return by Darius Butler – to finish the scoring.
The Blue Devils struggled to move the ball Saturday, gaining 169 yards against a stingy Husky defense. Duke had 15 net yards rushing, led by Justin Boyle’s 31 yards. The sophomore QB Lewis ended up with 148 passing yards on 14-of-28. He was intercepted three times and sacked four times.
Duke sophomore QB Zack Asack saw his first game action since 2005, and completed his only pass for six yards. He rushed four times for one yard.
Defensively, Duke was led by sophomore LB Vincent Rey, who registered a career-high 17 tackles, including 1.5 sacks for 17 yards in losses.
Duke returns to action next weekend with a noon kickoff at Virginia, who fell to Wyoming Saturday.