Nov. 21, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) – After a string of stinging losses, the Connecticut Huskies finally won one for their slain teammate.
Coach Randy Edsall called the Huskies’ double-overtime victory against Notre Dame the program’s “best win.”
On the other side, Charlie Weis was left to try to explain another jarring loss on senior day.
Andre Dixon scored on a 4-yard touchdown run in the second overtime to give the Huskies a 33-30 victory, their first since cornerback Jasper Howard was stabbed to death last month.
“Jazz this is for you,” Edsall said, referring to Howard by his nickname. “Best win we have ever had.”
Edsall said beating the Irish (6-5) was big, but getting the first win after the death of Howard was much bigger.
“You’ve got to understand what this team has gone through,” he said. “A couple of close games, and then you lose a teammate, you lose a brother, you lose a son, and you’re trying so hard to honor him by winning on the field. We hadn’t done that.”
Edsall said the Huskies will send the game ball to Howard’s mother, Joanglia, stepfather, Henry Williams, and the rest of his family in Miami. The Huskies (5-5) had lost three straight painfully close games since Howard was killed.
“We ended up just making the tough plays at the end that we hadn’t been able to make in some of earlier games,” Edsall said.
The loss was the third straight for Notre Dame (6-5). Weis declined to talk about his future after the game, saying it wasn’t the time.
“Today’s not the day for me to reflect on things like that. I mean today’s the day for me to be worrying about those guys, those 33 guys,” he said, referring to seniors on the roster. “I really feel absolutely miserable for those 33 guys. … I’ll worry about me tomorrow. But I think today I should be worrying about them.”
Notre Dame was upset last season by Syracuse in the final home game of a 7-6 season.
“It just hurt,” linebacker Brian Smith said. “A lot of seniors lost their last game at Notre Dame Stadium. It’s supposed to be a memorable day for them and now it’s not for the right reason.”
Senior tackle Sam Young, who made his school record 49th straight start, walked out to midfield dressed in a suit after the game and stood there by himself for a while.
The Irish led 14-0 early in the second quarter but didn’t score another touchdown until the first overtime, a change from recent losses when they fell behind and rallies fell short.
Edsall said the win wasn’t an upset.
“We knew we could come out here and win if we just went and executed and did the things that our God-given ability would allow us to do,” he said.
Jordan Todman ran for 130 yards on 26 carries, including a 43-yard TD run for UConn. He also added a 96-yard kickoff return for a TD. Dixon rushed for 114 yards on 20 carries.
“Since everything happened to Jazz, we haven’t won one for him. This was our chance to get that one for Jazz,” Dixon said.
This loss was Notre Dame’s fifth by a touchdown or less this season.
Jimmy Clausen was 30 of 45 passing for 329 yards for Notre Dame. Golden Tate had nine catches for 123 yards and Michael Floyd had eight catches for 104 yards. Tate set school records for catches in a season (83) and season yardage (1,295) with a 39-yard catch in the first quarter that helped set up Notre Dame’s first score.
While it was Dixon who scored the game-winner, Todman did the most damage. He cut the lead to 14-7 when he made four Irish defenders miss on a long touchdown run in the second quarter. Then when the Irish moved ahead 17-10, he tied it seconds later when he returned the kickoff for a touchdown, racing up the middle, cutting left and going untouched into the end zone.
The Huskies took their first lead when former Notre Dame quarterback Zach Frazer threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kashif Moore to make it 27-20. But the Irish tied the game when Clausen threw a fade to Floyd for a 4-yard TD.
Frazer, who transferred to UConn after finishing fourth in a four-man competition to replace Brady Quinn in the spring of 2007, was 12 of 25 passing for 141 yards and an interception. Frazer said the win was big for him.
“It means a lot to me and it means a lot to this university,” he said. “We won this one for Jazz.”
The loss drops Weis’ career record to 35-26, a .573 winning percentage. That’s worse than the .583 winning percentage of his two predecessors, Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie.
The Irish, who usually run out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium, walked out with linked arms led by the team captains and Weis, a show of support by the players.
“It was just us being behind coach Weis 110 percent” Clausen said. “He’s leading the program and we just wanted to show our support.”