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Updated: Monday, December 27, 2004 10:47 PM EST
NCAA FOOTBALL RECAP
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Connecticut 39, Toledo 10
CONNECTICUT HUSKIES
Connecticut Huskies
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TOLEDO ROCKETS
Toledo Rockets
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DETROIT (Ticker) -- Even with a healthy Bruce Gradkowski, Toledo might not have been able to keep up with Dan Orlovsky, Larry Taylor and Connecticut in the Motor City Bowl.

Orlovsky passed for 240 yards and two touchdowns and Taylor brought back a punt for a score and had 157 return yards as the Huskies rolled to a 39-10 victory over the Rockets.

Connecticut coach Randy Edsall wasn't surprised by the performances of either player.

"(Orlovsky) does it all the time so it's not surprising," Edsall said. "I've seen it for four years.

"(Taylor) is a special guy with special talents. Every time he touches the ball he can go all the way. He got us going against Temple when he brought back the opening kickoff for a touchdown."

A senior who had thrown for 3,115 yards and 21 TDs entering the game, Orlovsky staked Connecticut to a 10-0 lead on a 32-yard pass to Jason Williams with 4:41 left in the first quarter. Taylor opened a 17-0 cushion just over two minutes later when he returned a punt 68 yards for a score.

"We knew it would be important to get in front early," Edsall said. "It was 17-0 and all three phases contributed. We did a lot of different things to get on the board."

The Huskies' first touchdown was set up by Tyler King's fumble recovery at the Toledo 36. King, who also had a sack, was named Lineman of the Game.

Taylor, a 5-6, 157-pound freshman, saw something in the films of Toledo's kick coverage that gave him a hint that he could have a big game.

"I knew I had a chance to do something good," he said. "I told myself and the guys on our return teams that we could do something special tonight."

Orlovsky, the game's MVP who completed 20-of-41 passes with an interception, made it 24-7 with a seven-yard pass to Brian Sparks midway through the second quarter, and Matt Nuzie - who made 4-of-5 field-goal attempts - connected from 37 and 25 yards to open a 30-7 advantage at the half.

Gradkowski, who passed for 3,517 yards and 27 TDs this season, broke his right hand in a victory over Miami of Ohio in the Mid-American Conference championship game here and was ineffective in this one, completing just 6-of-12 passes for 42 yards before sitting out the second half.

"I thought I could get through it, but it was tougher than I thought," Gradkowski said. "I had X-rays taken at halftime and they didn't look good, so the doctors decided I shouldn't go back out there.

"I don't think it was one particular play that did it but the whole week of throwing hurt it. There were plays to be made but I couldn't make them. It was hard to hold the ball, and then subconsciously you change your throwing motion."

The Huskies, who were facing the Rockets for the first time and making their initial bowl appearance, completed their third season in Division I-A with an 8-4 record. It capped an excellent athletic year for the school, which saw both its men's and women's basketball teams win national championships.

"It's another milestone for this program," Edsall said. "The kids we're recruiting saw us on national TV, and hopefully, some of those kids who are on the fence will come our way."

Toledo (9-4) slipped to 1-2 in the Motor City Bowl. It beat Cincinnati in 2001 and lost to Boston College the following year.


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