Connecticut 13

(3-5, 1-2 away)

(16) Rutgers 24

(8-0, 4-0 home)

Coverage: ESPN

8:00 PM ET, October 29, 2006

High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ

1 2 3 4 T
CONN 0 0 13 013
#16RUTG 7 10 0 724

Top Performers

Passing: M. Teel (RUTG) - 123 YDS, 1 INT

Rushing: D. Brown (CONN) - 28 CAR, 199 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: T. Underwood (RUTG) - 3 REC, 38 YDS

Defense, special teams help Rutgers remain unbeaten

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- With its offense sputtering and its unbeaten season in jeopardy, No. 15 Rutgers turned to its opportunistic defense and special teams to turn away an upset bid.

Rutgers' defense, offense and special teams scored touchdowns in a game for the second time this season in a 23-14 win over Connecticut on Sunday night that kept the Scarlet Knights (8-0) one of six unbeaten teams in Division 1-A.

Rutgers can now turn its attention to a showdown with No. 5 Louisville a week from Thursday. The Cardinals (7-0) will face No. 3 West Virginia this Thursday night.

That game came close to losing some of its luster as Rutgers had its hands full with UConn.

"We didn't play our best football of the season, that's for certain," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "But we made plays to win the football game, and that's what good teams do."

The biggest of those plays came midway through the fourth quarter when Jamaal Westerman -- who earlier had forced a fumble by UConn quarterback D.J. Hernandez that led to a touchdown -- blocked Chris Pavasaris' punt with Rutgers hanging on to a 17-13 lead.

Quintero Frierson scooped up the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown that finally put the Huskies (3-5) away.

"I've been watching our defensive backs blocking punts and I just tried to use their technique," Westerman said.

Manny Collins, who has blocked five punts for Rutgers in his career, scored from 11 yards out in the second quarter when Westerman dragged Hernandez down from behind as the quarterback tried to scramble around right end.

Ray Rice scored on a 5-yard run on the first drive of the game for Rutgers, but the nation's second-leading rusher was held to 79 yards, his lowest total of the season. He entered the game averaging 161 yards, second behind Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe.

"They packed the box," Rice said. "They did a great job. I'm just happy we came out with a win. That's the biggest thing: we're 8-0."

After Rutgers took a 17-0 halftime lead, UConn freshman Donald Brown scored on touchdown runs of 65 and 7 yards. Playing in place of starter Terry Caulley, Brown finished with 199 yards in his first college start, by far the most yards this season against Rutgers, which had been allowing 78 yards per game.

Rutgers needed the contributions from its defense and special teams because its offense was largely nonexistent in the second half. The Scarlet Knights managed one first down in the third quarter and gained 75 yards in the final 30 minutes.

When Brown scored his second touchdown near the end of the third quarter to cut Rutgers' lead to 17-13, boos could be heard from the crowd of 41,077 at Rutgers Stadium.

"You could feel the tide going the other way," Schiano said. "We needed to turn it around and we had guys who made plays who have made plays all year."

UConn, meanwhile, was plagued by mistakes. A long kickoff return in the first half by Larry Taylor to the Rutgers 31 was erased by a holding penalty, and a fumble by Hernandez near the end of the half stopped a drive that had reached the Rutgers 43.

Rice and Collins scored to give Rutgers a 14-0 lead that Jeremy Ito extended to 17-0 midway through the second quarter with a 51-yard field goal, his second-longest of the season behind his 53-yarder against South Florida on Sept. 29. It was the senior's 46th field goal, tying the school record set by Kennan Startzell in 1979.