Lyle McCombs scores 4 TDs as UConn rolls in opener

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni returned to the college sidelines Saturday coaching the Huskies to a season-opening 35-3 rout of FCS foe Fordham, in a game that was pushed back two days as a result of last week's tropical storm.

Redshirt freshman tailback Lyle McCombs ran for 141 yards and four touchdowns for the Huskies, two in each half.

The Huskies held Fordham to just 169 yards of offense, giving up just one big play, a 58-yard pass in the third quarter from freshman Peter Maetzold to Brian Wetzel that set up a 28-yard field goal, Fordham's only score.

Pasqualoni was coaching his first game since leaving Syracuse in 2004, and is now tied for the most wins by any Big East coach with 108. He was 107-59-1 during his 14 years with the Orange.

Junior Johnny McEntee started at quarterback for Connecticut, completing 8 of 12 passes for 113 yards, but all three Husky quarterbacks saw action.

Freshman Mike Nebrich threw for 60 yards and redshirt freshman Scott McCummings spelled both of them, giving UConn an option-style change of pace. He threw just one pass, but it was a 55-yard touchdown strike to tight end Ryan Griffin in the second quarter that gave UConn a 14-0 lead. He also ran for 23 yards.

But McCombs stole the show, after getting the surprise start at tailback over senior D.J. Shoemate, who UConn officials said was banged up in practice on Thursday.

McCombs had 122 yards rushing and two 2-yard touchdown runs in the first half. His first capped a 58-yard first-quarter drive that was set up by a 24-yard pass from McEntee to Isiah Moore.

McCombs set up his second score himself with a 60-yard run off the left side. He also scored on a 5-yard pitchout and a 1-yard run up the middle in the third quarter.

An interception by Byron Jones off a Sio Moore tip led to the scoring strike from McCummings to Griffin, after the defense bit on a play-action fake. Griffin caught three balls for 97 yards and that score.

Maetzold was 12-of-25 for 149 yards with an interception for Fordham. But sophomore Griffin Murphy also played, occasionally lining up next to Maetzold as a halfback. He ran the ball six times for 17 yards and also threw an incomplete pass on an option play.

UConn kicker Dave Teggart tied the school's scoring record on his fifth extra point of the game, giving him 259 points in his career.

Fordham, which was 5-6 a year ago, was playing its first major-college opponent since facing Syracuse in 1954. They had played the Huskies one other time, back in 1915, when they beat UConn 35-0.

Fordham began offering football scholarships last year, and is not allowed to play for the championship of the Patriot League, where schools are allowed only to give aid for financial need.

Fordham can still make the FCS playoffs, but only by earning an at-large bid.

Pasqualoni, a Cheshire native, spent the last six years in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.