UConn Zaps Zips

UConn Zaps Zips

EAST HARTFORD—Tyvon Branch was brooding while waiting back for a kickoff late in the first half against Akron. The University of Connecticut senior defensive back had a tough day up until that point. He was called for a questionable pass interference call in the endzone on a third down play, and just moments earlier he was beaten by Akron's Jabari Arthur for a 9-yard touchdown.

The first half wasn't going well, and the Huskies were trailing 10-9.

 

Branch then took the kickoff and went straight up the field. Instead of blockers, all Branch saw was daylight and the endzone. He flashed national caliber track speed he had in high school and turned on the jets.

 

About five seconds and 97 yards later the Huskies were back on top – this time for good.

 

"I never get down on the field, the boys always rally around me to pick me up," Branch said. "They told me that if I make a big play, the offense will get going and everything will get going.  So I had to go out there and set the tone for the offense and bounce back from the play that I just gave up."

 

Branch's touchdown was the first of 35 unanswered points as the Huskies improved to 5-0 with a 44-10 romp over Akron at Rentschler Field on Saturday.

 

It is the Huskies best start since 1995 when it started 6-0 as Division I-AA member in the Yankee Conference. UConn has been impressive with four of its five wins coming b y 20 points or more.

 

Still, UConn head coach Randy Edsall sees room for improvement with the bye week coming up. The next Huskies game is at Virginia on Oct. 13.

 

"We haven't put it together in all three phases, but realistically, I don't know if everyone ever puts it all together in all phases," Edsall said. "We are striving to do that. We are striving for perfection every week and we won't be satisfied until we get it. It's great we are winning but it is also great that we have a lot of stuff to work on."

 

The Huskies piled up 465 yards of total offense, 244 rushing in the second half, with Tyler Lorenzen directing the offense with 203 yards passing and two touchdowns. Andre Dixon was the game breaker in the second half rolling to 116 yards rushing and 52 yards receiving with two touchdowns including a 55-yard scamper. Donald Brown had -1 yards rushing in the first half, but the UConn running game came alive in the second with him finishing with 65 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries before leaving with an ankle injury. All but one of Dixon's rushing yards were in the second half.  

 

The Huskies only ran the ball five times in the first half with Dixon and Brown, instead trying to soften up the Akron defense with the passing game. It worked to perfection.

 

"We threw the ball and loosened it up," Edsall said. "Because of us throwing so much got them tired. Making them run sideline to sideline, the verticals down the field, and getting them to run a lot loosened them up a little bit. Sometimes you have to do that to be able to run it."

 

Akron broke through first with a field goal from Igor Iveljic striking from 28 yards for an 3-0 lead early in the second quarter. UConn answered through the air with Lorenzen finding Dixon on a 9-yard touchdown catch. Tony Ciaravino missed the extra point, but he redeemed himself later when he nailed a 45 yarder into the wind for a 9-3 lead.

 

The Huskies lead was short lived when Bryan Williams returned the kickoff 58 yards to the UConn 28. Five plays later, Branch was caught behind Arthur on a fade to the endzone for the go ahead score for Akron at 10-9.  Branch didn't sweat the result. He was needed on the kickoff return team and didn't waste anytime putting it behind him.

 

"It was a big momentum turn," Edsall said. "Branch has those capabilities to do that. We thought if we could secure a block and get him a seam he could do that."

 

 "Him being a senior and in the battles, you can't live with one play. That is the maturity level we are getting. They do not panic, do not get flustered."

 

The Huskies' Lorenzen threw and interception on the first play of the second half, and that was the last thing that went off for the Huskies.

 

The defense stiffened up and the passing game opened things up for the running game. A 19 yard run by Brown set up a 5-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and the Huskies were on their way. Lorenzen found Jeffers for an 8-yard touchdown catch and Dixon capped the third quarter explosion with a 55-yard touchdown run and a 37-10 score.

 

The Huskies were on a roll in the second half and there was little the Zips could do to stop them.

 

Lou Allen capped the scoring with a short touchdown run in the fourth quarter before Edsall called off the dogs.

 

UConn sacked Akron quarterback Jaquemain for times while Danny Lansanah had 13 tackles to lead the Huskies.   

 

The injury bug hit the Huskies a bit with Brown (ankle), Branch (shoulder), Kevin Poles (ankle) and Gary Mack (ankle) all leaving with injuries. The bye week couldn't have come at a better time. The Huskies are 5-0 and flying high.

 

 

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