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Big East: Panthers stay in hunt for bowl bid

Associated Press
Published November 13, 2005


PITTSBURGH - Connecticut tried a bit of subterfuge before facing Pittsburgh, parading injured quarterback Matt Bonislawski in sweat gear before the game only to rush him into a uniform and start him.

It didn't matter in the Huskies' first shutout loss since 2000.

Josh Lay scored on a 71-yard return of a field goal attempt blocked by his former high school teammate, and Pittsburgh turned a mishmash of Connecticut mistakes on offense and special teams into a 24-0 victory Saturday.

Tyler Palko threw a 2-yard touchdown to Steve Buches on Pitt's only sustained drive, and scored on a 1-yard run to help the Panthers win their fifth in a row at home - their only victories in a disappointing season.

"We'd like to start the season over, but we can't," Palko said. "But we still have stuff to play for."

UConn welcomed back Bonislawski after he missed three games with a separated right shoulder, but still lost its fourth in a row. Bonislawski was 18-of-35 for 156 yards and three interceptions as the Huskies outgained Pitt 299-192 but couldn't score.

Matt Nuzie's 26-yard field goal attempt for UConn was blocked by Darrelle Revis and returned by Lay. Revis and Lay played together at Aliquippa High, a Pittsburgh powerhouse. Pitt's first blocked field goal touchdown since 1994 made it 14-0 midway through the second quarter.

Pitt must upset No. 16 West Virginia in Morgantown on Thanksgiving to become bowl eligible and avoid its first losing season since 1999.