EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Jordan Todman ran for 222 yards, including 4 on a key fourth-down conversion, and Connecticut beat Pittsburgh 30-28 on Thursday to bring the Panthers back to the pack in the Big East.
The Huskies faced fourth-and-1 from their 19 with 2 minutes left in the game and coach Randy Edsall decided to hand the ball to Todman, who put his head down and broke through the line. UConn ran out the clock from there.
Pittsburgh (5-4, 3-1) entered with a two-game lead in the Big East, and was looking to become the first team in the conference to become bowl eligible.
The Panthers led 21-20 with just over 7 minutes left, but UConn (5-4, 2-2) scored 10 points in 48 seconds to go in front again.
Jon Baldwin caught a 20-yard TD pass with 4:35 left to get the Panthers within two. It was initially ruled incomplete, but the call was overturned when a replay showed he dragged a foot in the back of the end zone.
Dion Lewis ran for 77 yards and Ray Graham added 75 on the ground for the Panthers. But Graham fumbled a kickoff, setting up the Huskies' final touchdown.
Pittsburgh, which had been surrendering just under 94 yards rushing per game, could not stop Todman, who had 102 yards at halftime. The junior moved into third place on the school's all-time rushing list and had career highs in carries (37) and yards.
With UConn trailing 21-20 in the fourth, Todman broke off a 31-yard run to set up Dave Teggart's 25-yard field goal, his third of the day. Graham was stripped on the return by Anthony Sherman, and two plays later, Zach Frazer found Isiah Moore from 14 yards out for the touchdown.
Frazer completed nine of 20 passes with an interception, but threw for two scores.
Pittsburgh's Tino Sunseri, who was 20-of-28 passing for 220 yards and a touchdown, had two key first-half interceptions. His first came at the UConn 9-yard line, on the 12th play of a drive. His second stopped a 12-play drive.
But the Panthers appeared to be in control in the third quarter after touchdowns from Lewis and Graham made it 21-13.
The Huskies answered Graham's score on the kickoff, which Nick Williams took at the 5-yard line, cut right and ran 95 yards.
Pittsburgh started quickly. Jarred Holley picked off a flea flicker on the game's first play from scrimmage, and the Panthers needed just five more plays to score. Lewis took a screen pass 31 yards, setting up his 4-yard TD run.
Connecticut responded with an 11-play, 83 yard drive. Frazer hit Kashif Moore on a crossing pattern and Moore reached the ball just over the pylon for a 36-yard touchdown.
UConn, which beat West Virginia a week ago in overtime, is now one win away from becoming bowl eligible and back in the race for the conference championship.
The Panthers finish the season with games at South Florida and Cincinnati, the annual Backyard Brawl with West Virginia sandwiched between them.
The Huskies, who came in averaging just over 13 points per game in Big East play, improved to 5-0 at home his year and are 3-1 against the Panthers at Rentschler Field.