UConn overcomes late deficit, stuns Pitt in OT for first Big East win

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- D.J. Hernandez escaped a furious rush and scrambled into the end zone for a 2-point conversion in the second overtime Saturday and Connecticut stunned Pittsburgh 46-45 to earn its first Big East win.

Hernandez led Connecticut (4-5, 1-3) back from a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit, rushing for 130 yards and passing for 164 yards and four touchdowns.

Freshman Donald Brown carried the ball 43 times for 205 yards, including a 10-yard run in the second OT that cut Pittsburgh's lead to 45-44.

Coach Randy Edsall decided to go for two and the win.

After two time-outs, Hernandez took the snap, scrambled to avoid a blitz and rolled right into the end zone.

That capped a comeback that began after Pittsburgh (6-4, 2-3) went ahead 31-17 on a 1-yard run by quarterback Tyler Palko that capped a 7-play, 62-yard drive late in the third quarter.

Pinned at their 2 with 12:10 remaining in the game, the Huskies drove 98-yards, scoring when a scrambling Hernandez found Brown in the end zone from 8-yards out.

The Huskies got the ball back with 3:14 on the clock and Hernandez went to work again, completing six passes on an 11-play, 77-yard drive, the final one to tight end Danny Murray from a yard out with 3 seconds on the clock.

Brandon Young made a diving catch in the right corner of the end zone on UConn's first overtime possession to give the Huskies the 38-31 lead.

But the Panthers came right back, scoring on a 1-yard pass from Palko to fullback Conredge Collins on fourth down.

Pitt needed just two plays in the second overtime. LaRod Stephens-Howling ran in from a yard out, after Palko connected on a 24-yard pass to Derek Kinder.

Palko was 20-25 for 234 yards and three TDs, and Stephens-Howling ran 32 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

Pittsburgh tight end Steve Buches caught two first-half touchdowns.

His first, a 14-yard catch-and-run was set up by a 49-yard kickoff return by Lowell Robinson after UConn had taken an early 3-0 lead.

Palko and Buches hooked up again for a 3-yard touchdown later in the first period, capping a 10-play, 70-yard drive. Stephens-Howling set up the score with a 32-yard draw play from the UConn 35-yard line.

Connecticut cut the lead to 14-10 when freshman wide receiver Terrance Jeffers caught a pass from D.J. Hernandez, cut back and scored from 11 yards out to finish an 84-yard drive.

Brown's 5-yard run at 6:55 of the second quarter put the Huskies up 17-14, and put Brown over the 100-yard mark.

But Pitt came right back with a 90-yard drive. Stephens-Howling ran 26 yards for a touchdown, most of it after he appeared to be wrapped up by UConn linebacker Danny Lansanah at the 25.

Pittsburgh added a third-quarter field goal, after getting the ball at the UConn 30, when the Huskies' long snapper, Rob Lunn, hiked the ball over punter Chris Pavasaris' head.

The Panthers have already qualified for a bowl game, but now have a three-game losing streak after losses to Rutgers (20-10) and South Florida (22-12).

The Panthers close the season with games against No. 10 West Virginia and No. 3 Louisville.