Sunday, August 31, 2003

UConn dominates in opener

Connecticut 34, Indiana 10

The Associated Press

UConn's O'Neil Wilson scores a touchdown in the first quarter.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - From steak to shrimp, Connecticut tailgaters cooked up a feast to christen UConn's new 40,000-seat stadium.

Once inside the $90 million Rentschler Field, the near-capacity crowd quickly got a taste of big-time football as the Huskies dominated Indiana 34-10 in the season opener Saturday.

Protected by a solid offensive line, Dan Orlovsky threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Tailback Terry Caulley led all rushers with 166 yards, including a 43-yard-scoring run late in the game.

"They came out to stop Terry and we were lucky enough that the offensive line played great," Orlovsky said. "They gave us a lot of time to throw the ball. My job was easy."

The UConn defense came up big as well. The Huskies sacked Indiana quarterback Matt LoVecchio five times and came up with three of four Indiana fumbles.

Defensive tackle Sean Mulcahy had two of UConn's sacks and found himself marveling several times at the UConn pressure.

"At some points, I was like, 'Wow, we're really getting back there a lot,' " Mulcahy said.

The Huskies extended their winning streak from last season to five games. Indiana, the first Big Ten school UConn has faced, is winless in its last seven games.

Built on a former airfield, Rentschler Field is the culmination of UConn's upgrade from Division I-AA to I-A that began five years ago under coach Randy Edsall and then-athletic director Lew Perkins.

The Huskies, in their last season as an independent, join the Big East next year.

The Huskies built a 17-3 lead at halftime, and the UConn defense stifled LoVecchio. The Notre Dame transfer, who sat out last season, went 13-of-29 for 211 yards. UConn held Indiana to 110 yards on the ground.

"It was just a matter of us not being ourselves and not being efficient or smart with the football," LoVecchio said. "I think our defense hung in there well with them. Offensively, we just have to get our heads screwed on."

Caulley, who led the nation's freshmen last year in rushing, wore down Indiana in the second half. The 5-foot-7 tailback broke seven tackles on a 38-yard run early in the third quarter, then helped ice the game with the 43-yard TD run with 7:35 remaining in the fourth.

"I knew it was going to be a tough game," second-year Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo said. "At this point, there's really nothing we can do but get better at what we're doing. We're not going to invent a new defense. We're not going to invent a new offense."

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