Bozeman's TD Seals Bronco Win Over UConn
Alex Carder passed for 237 yards and a touchdown, and two players - Josh Schaffer and Jaime Wilson - each broke 100 yards receiving. It was the first time two Broncos surpassed the century mark since Jordan White and Chleb Ravenell did it against Miami (Ohio) on November 16, 2011.
That said, much like last year's meeting between the Broncos and the Huskies, a defensive play in the fourth quarter gave the Broncos the decisive edge. In 2011, WMU's Rontavious Atkins stripped UConn's Ryan Griffin as the Huskies were driving for a score late in the fourth quarter, recovering the loose football and sealing the Huskies' fate as the Broncos won the game 38-31.
This year, it was junior linebacker Desmond Bozeman who made the difference.
The Broncos led 24-17 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Huskies were threatening to score after a solid punt return gave them starting field position in Broncos' territory with 7:32 to play. On first down at the WMU 47, Bozeman came on the rush and strip-sacked UConn quarterback Chandler Whitman, scooping up the loose ball and taking it back 53 yards for his first career touchdown. The score gave the Broncos a 30-17 lead with 7:12 left in regulation.
Bozeman finished the game with a game-high 12 tackles and two sacks, and was a key part of the defensive front seven that harrassed Whitman for much of the afternoon. The Broncos sacked Whitman six times and pressured him three other times, as UConn struggled to find offensive traction until late in the second half.
The Huskies would score a touchdown with 52 seconds remaining in regulation to pull within six points of the Broncos, but WMU recovered UConn's onsides kick attempt to seal the 30-24 victory.
The Broncos were firmly in control of much of the first half, holding the Huskies to just 162 offensive yards and without a point until late in the second quarter. The pressure was on in the Huskies' backfield as the Broncos sacked Whitman three times in the first half, and WMU held the UConn run game to just a 1.7 yards per carry average.
WMU scored on the opening drive for third consecutive game, working their way up the field on a series of underneath passes. Carder hit Kendrick Roberts for a 10-yard gain and a first down on the second play from scrimmage, and found Wilson for a 16-yard gain on the next, a gain that was compounded when UConn was called for roughing the passer. Now in Huskies territory, the Broncos put themselves in field goal position when Daniel Braverman caught a pass on a crossing route before going down at the UConn 26. Kicker Andrew Haldeman booted the ball through the uprights from 43 yards out to give the Broncos a 3-0 lead with 12:53 remaining in the first.
The Broncos poured it on in the second quarter, though, breaking the game open with a pair of touchdown drives to take a three-score lead on the Huskies. Starting
on their own 13-yard line, the Broncos used a downfield passing attack to carve up the Huskies' D. Carder hit Wilson on a post route on 1st-and-10 from the WMU 28 for a 39-yard gain, putting the Broncos in Huskies territory; two plays later, Schaffer hauled in a lob along the left sideline before being pushed out of bounds at the UConn 2.
The Huskies committed an offsides penalty to put the Broncos on the one-yard line, and Antoin Scriven capped the eight play, 87-yard drive by punching it into the endzone for the touchdown. Haldeman's extra point would give the Broncos a 10-0 lead with 12:10 remaining in the second quarter.
WMU tacked on another touchdown later in the quarter, using a defensive stand to jump-start the drive. After forcing the Huskies into a three-and-out with 10:29 remaining in the second quarter, the Broncos took control at the UConn 36 thanks to a short punt and a 10-yard return from Wilson.
The Broncos converted a 3rd-and-15 when Carder hit Schaffer going across the middle for an 18-yard gain, putting WMU on the UConn 11. On second-and-eight from the UConn 9, Daryeon Chance ran untouched into the end zone to cap the seven-play, 36-yard touchdown drive, giving WMU a 17-0 lead with 8:39 left in the half.
UConn would score a touchdown before the half was over to pull within 10 points, but the Broncos' first drive of the second half would put the Brown and Gold back in the driver's seat. With the Broncos facing a 3rd-and-9 on the UConn 30, Schaffer cut across to the middle of the field and, working through a pair of defenders, hauled in a pass from Carder at the UConn 15. Schaffer fought through the traffic and ran the final 15 yards to the end zone untouched as the Broncos regained their three-score lead on the Huskies, taking a 24-7 advantage with 9:47 remaining in the third.