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November 12, 2005UConn quarterback Matt Bonislawski made a surprise return Saturday afternoon against Pittsburgh, but even his presence could not help the Huskies.
Bonislawski, who was sidelined with a broken collarbone, finished 18 of 35 passing for 156 yards but the redshirt junior threw three fourth-quarter interceptions as Pittsburgh defeated UConn, 24-0, before a crowd of 35,145 at Heinz Field.
Panthers quarterback Tyler Palko passed for one touchdown and rushed for another.
Palko's 2-yard touchdown pass to Steve Buches with 8:42 left in the first quarter opened the scoring on Pittsburgh's first drive.
Matt Nuzie had a 26-yard field goal blocked in the second quarter by Darrelle Revis and Josh Lay returned it 71 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Pittsburgh lead.
UConn had a chance to cut the lead with only seconds left before halftime. Nuzie kicked a field goal, but a penalty was called on Pittsburgh's Darrell Strong.
The Huskies chose to go for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line with three seconds left, but Cornell Brockington was called down just short of the end zone.
Palko, who finished 12 of 21 passing for 116 yards, scored on a 1-yard run with 2:02 left in the third to give Pittsburgh a 21-0 lead and Josh Cummings drilled a 42-yard field goal with 2:24 left in the game for the final margin.
Brockington led UConn, which has lost four straight Big East games, with 74 yards on 18 carries. Terry Caulley added 45 yards on seven carries, including a 35-yard run late in the first quarter, but the Huskies ended up punting on that drive.
Brandon Young (65 yards) and Caulley (38 yards) each had six catches. UConn's defense held Pittsburgh's top receiver, Greg Lee, to two catches for 15 yards.
Pittsburgh (5-5, 4-2 Big East) only had 116 passing yards and 73 rushing yards. Raymond Kirkley led Pittsburgh (5-5, 4-2) with 26 yards on eight carries and Rashad Jennings added seven carries for 25 yards.
UConn kick returner Darius Butler had three returns for 105 yards. Chris Pavasaris, who replaced Shane Hussar this week, punted seven times and averaged 35 yards per punt.
The Huskies must beat South Florida and Louisville in their final two games at Rentschler Field to become bowl eligible. The Bulls visit UConn (4-5, 1-4) on November 26 and the Huskies play Louisville in their regular-season finale on December 3.
UConn was shut out for the first time since joining the Big East.
Adam Gorney covers UConn sports for Rivals.com and can be reached at email@example.com.