EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Andre Dixon dragged defenders on a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:32 left and Connecticut overcame a late 10-point deficit to beat Louisville 21-17 on Friday night, getting some help from a controversial punt return.
It was the biggest win of the season for UConn (6-1, 2-0 Big East), and keeps the Huskies in first place in the conference. The Cardinals, once considered national title contenders, dropped to 4-4 overall and 1-2 in the Big East.
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. He was 9-for-18 for 130 yards and no interceptions.
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 at over 20 mph, Brohm completed 29 of 41 passes for 228 yards.
UConn scored its first points on a Larry Taylor's controversial 74-yard punt return. With the Huskies down 7-0 with 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.
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.
UConn's 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.
But Taylor returned the kickoff to the 50 and UConn took just five plays to score, with Tyler Lorenzen hitting a diving D.J. Hernandez for a 7-yard touchdown strike.
Brohm drove Louisville back into UConn territory, but cornerback Tyvon 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 a 7-0 lead and 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, relied mostly on short passes early, completing 12 of 14 in the first half for 98 yards. The Cardinals had been averaging almost 560 yards per game, including 398 yards through the air. They had 321 in this one.
UConn seemed to have a harder time with the wet ball early. The Huskies attempted just one pass in their first 21 plays, and fumbled three times on their opening possession. Louisville's Brandon Cox recovered the last one at the Cardinals 18. A second-quarter drive was stopped on the Louisville 10, when Connecticut failed to convert on a fourth-and-1.
Scott Lutrus led the UConn defense with 18 tackles and an interception.
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