Connecticut picked apart Pitt’s defense for 218 yards as it rolled to a 27-7 halftime lead Saturday night in the Big East Conference opener at Heinz Field.
The Huskies turned two Pitt turnovers into 10 points, starting with linebacker Danny Lansanah’s interception of a Kevan Smith pass that set up their first touchdown and ending with Robert McClain’s recovery of a Smith fumble that set up Tony Ciaravino’s 39-yard field goal.
UConn quarterback Tyler Lorenzen completed 10 of 14 passes for 149 yards, tailback Donald Brown ran for 45 yards on 14 carries and Lou Allen added a pair of touchdown runs.
Pitt gained only 101 yards on 23 offensive plays, as Smith completed 3 of 9 passes for 29 yards.
Pitt’s only scoring drive came when it turned the offensive reins over to backup freshman tailback LeSean McCoy, the game’s leading rusher with 54 yards on eight carries.
McCoy energized the Panthers early in the second quarter, taking a direct snap out of a shotgun formation in the Wildcat offense and throwing an 18-yard pass to tight end Nate Byham, who made a leaping grab for a first down.
McCoy then broke a 24-yard run, shaking a UConn defender on his way. After a 1-yard gain, McCoy took a handoff up the middle and hurdled a diving Huskies defender at the 10 and scoring on a 19-yard run to make it 10-7 with 9:20 remaining in the first half.
UConn answered with an eight-play, 60-yard scoring drive highlighted by passes to quarterback-turned-receiver D.J. Hernandez of 29 and 13 yards, the latter setting up Donald Brown’s 3-yard touchdown run to make it 17-7 with 5:38 left.
The Huskies added a nine-play, 69-yard scoring drive capped by Lou Allen’s 1-yard run for a 24-7 lead. Lorenzen completed a 22-yard pass to Terence Jeffers, then a 24-yarder to Larry Taylor.
Smith then fumbled when he was sacked by defensive end Julius Williams, and McClain recovered at Pitt’s 30. Three plays later, Ciaravino made the field goal as time expired.