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UConn rallies to beat Louisville

Connecticut solidified its position on top of the Big East standings Friday night by beating Louisville.

And yes, we're talking about football, not basketball.

Andre Dixon dragged defenders on a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:32 left as UConn overcame a late 10-point deficit to beat the Cardinals 21-17, getting some help from a controversial punt return.

It was the biggest win of the season for UConn (6-1, 2-0), and makes the Huskies bowl eligible. The loss dropped the Cardinals (4-4, 1-2), once considered national title contenders, to .500.

Dixon ran 22 times for 115 yards and the score. His final run capped a nine-play, 71-yard drive that began when Louisville, leading 17-14, had a pass knocked away on fourth-and-3 from the Connecticut 29 with 5:50 left.

Tyler Lorenzen, who attempted just 18 passes, then led Huskies down the field for the winning score, completing three big throws along the way. He finished 9-for-18 for 130 yards and no interceptions.

"Whew," Lorenzen said. "We made some plays, got in the end zone and found a way to give ourselves a chance to win"

UConn linebacker Danny Lansanah picked off Brian Brohm's pass at the UConn 20 to secure the win in the waning seconds. It was one of three UConn interceptions.

Playing much of the game in a driving rain and wind gusting over 20 mph, Brohm was 29-of-41 for 228 yards, most of his completions coming on short passes.

UConn scored its first points on Larry Taylor's controversial 74-yard punt return. With the Huskies down 7-0 and 13 minutes left in the third quarter, Taylor settled under a 45-yard punt and appeared to call for a fair catch at the Connecticut 26. Replays showed Taylor putting up his right hand, and Louisville players stopped their pursuit as soon as he caught the ball. But Taylor sprinted left, then down the sideline and the referees didn't stop the play.

Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe called a timeout before the extra point in an effort to get the officials to take another look, but after a consultation, they said a fair-catch signal isn't reviewable.

The official definition of a fair-catch signal in the rule book calls for a player to raise his hand above his head and wave it back and forth more than once, something Taylor didn't do.

"That wasn't no fair catch, that was a fair play out there," Taylor said. "The referee didn't call anything, he said it was a fair play. I felt I didn't fair catch it anyway."

Trent Guy returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to the UConn 8, but that play was called back because of a holding penalty.

Later in the quarter, UConn thought it had recovered a muffed punt at the Louisville 1. But officials ruled Connecticut's Tyvon Branch touched the ball first, downing it on the 16. That prompted the UConn student section to begin the tossing novelty hats they had been given before the game onto the field.

Brohm then directed the Cardinals on a 14-play, 78-yard drive that ate up over 7 minutes and ended with Art Carmody's 23-yard field goal that put the Cardinals up 10-7.

Donald Brown fumbled on UConn's next possession, and defensive tackle Earl Heyman picked up the ball and rumbled 34 yards for a touchdown, and Louisville seemed to be in control.

"At that point in time, it should have been 17-0," Kragthorpe said. "We did some nice things on defense, but again, you've got to give UConn credit because they did a nice job at the end of the game."

Taylor returned the kickoff to the 50 and UConn took just five plays to score, with Lorenzen hitting a diving D.J. Hernandez for a 7-yard touchdown.

Brohm drove Louisville back into UConn territory, but Branch broke up a fourth-down pass attempt, setting up the winning drive.

Brohm completed his first eight passes. He found Scott Kuhn in the back of the end zone as time expired in the first quarter for the only points of the first half. The seven-play, 39-yard drive included five runs by Brock Bolen.

Brohm, who came in having completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,765 yards, completed 12 of 14 in the first half for 98 yards. The Cardinals had been averaging almost 560 yards per game, including 398 through the air. They had 321 in this one. UConn had 305.

Scott Lutrus led UConn with 18 tackles and an interception.

He said the win should help end that talk that Connecticut hasn't had a significant win. Its other five victories came against teams with nine combined wins.

"I think we made a statement as a team," he said. "We proved we can win against good, quality teams."