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Defeat Of Bulls Lifts UConn to 3 And 2 For Season

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Lyle Mccombs (Elsa/Getty Images Sports)

Lyle Mccombs (Elsa/Getty Images Sports)

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By PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut running backs Lyle
McCombs and Martin Hyppolite combined for 157 yards rushing and two
touchdowns to lead Connecticut to a 24-17 win over Buffalo on
Saturday.

Chandler Whitmer, who completed passes to eight different
receivers, threw for 227 yards and another score as UConn (3-2)
opened up a 24-7 lead in the third quarter and held on to win.

Buffalo (1-3), which was playing without injured running back
Branden Oliver, had the ball with a chance to tie late in the game,
but failed to convert on fourth down at its own 39 yard line.

Quarterback Alex Zordich threw for 220 yards and ran for 76 to
lead the Bulls.

UConn improved to 2-1 this season against the Mid-American
conference. The Huskies beat Massachusetts in their season opener,
but lost last week at Western Michigan.

McCombs, UConn’s 166-pound tailback was the Huskies workhorse,
carrying the ball 29 times for 97 yards. His 2-yard fourth-down
touchdown run gave the Huskies a 24-7 lead with just over 5 minutes
left in the third quarter.

But Buffalo went into its bag of tricks to pull within 24-14.

Zordich completed a 4-yard pass to Alex Neutz in the right flat,
who then pitched the ball to running back Brandon Murie. He raced
down the right sideline, breaking a Byron Jones’ tackle on the way
to a 50-yard touchdown.

The Bulls got within a touchdown on a 44-yard field goal by
Patrick Clarke with 2:23 left after a 43 yard pass from Zordich to
Neutz.

UConn receiver Geremy Davis recovered the onside kick, but UConn
punted it away three plays later giving Buffalo one more chance to
tie.

The Bulls took the ball at their own 20 and managed one first
dow. But Zordich was stuffed by linebacker Yawin Smallwood after a
2-yard gain on a fourth-and-4 from the 39, and the Huskies ran out
the clock.

Connecticut had big plays on back-to-back drives in the first
half to take a 17-7 lead.

Tight end Ryan Griffin’s 36-yard catch and run over the middle
on the first play of the second quarter capped a 10-play 92-yard
drive that gave the Huskies a 10-7 lead.

The Huskies then went 75 yards in five plays the next time they
had the ball. Hyppolite, who had just four carries coming into the
game, took a pitchout on his fifth and went 50 yards off the right
side for the Huskies second touchdown.

Connecticut moved the ball well from the opening kickoff. A
24-yard pass from Whitmer to Nick Williams set up a 29-yard Chad
Christen field goal that gave the Huskies a 3-0 lead.

But Buffalo responded with a 10 play, 75-yard drive that
included a 30-yard screen pass to Devin Campbell on a fourth down
that set up Murie’s 4-yard touchdown run.

The Bulls special teams then stepped up, executing a successful
onside kick, before the offense stalled.

Buffalo clearly missed Oliver, who had rushed for 426 yards in
just over two games this season before going down with what the
team has only described as a leg injury in the first half of the
Bulls’ Sept. 19 loss to Kent State. Oliver rushed for 1,395 yards
and 13 touchdowns last season for the Bulls.

Without him, Zordich was the Bulls most effective ball carrier.
He had 66 yards rushing in the first half.

Running backs Murie (55 yards) and Devin Campbell (25), combined
for 80 yards rushing in Oliver’s place. They had a combined 18
carries coming into the game.

UConn came in ranked fifth in the nation against the rush,
allowing just 51 yards per game, but gave up 141 to the Bulls.
Buffalo came into the game giving up 34 points a game.

The Huskies improved to 12-4 at Rentschler Field over the last
three seasons.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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