2010-01-04 / Sports

BRIEFS

UConn dominates Gamecocks in bowl game

The Connecticut Huskies made a statement in the Southeastern Conference's backyard, while Steve Spurrier and South Carolina left embarrassed by what the coach described as a “sad, sad effort.”

Andre Dixon rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown and resilient Connecticut ended a trying season with a 20-7 victory over the Gamecocks in the Papajohns.com Bowl on Saturday.

“I was a little worried that the season had been so long and so tough on them that I didn't see a whole lot of emotion from them,” Huskies coach Randy Edsall said. “But I guess they were just saving it up for today.

“I told them in the locker room (after the game) that they're never going to be around something like this for the rest of their lives. In all my years of coaching, I have never been around a team like this. It's hard to describe unless you've been through the ride with us.”

It was a choppy one. The Huskies (8-5) are 3-1 in bowl games since moving up to Division I-A (now FBS) in 2002, but this was their first win over an SEC team — and it came in the powerhouse league's home base. They won their final three regular-season games and overcame the October stabbing death of cornerback Jasper Howard to reach a bowl.

“We talked about earning respect,” Edsall said. “We came down here against an SEC team in the heart of one of the passionate areas in the country for college football. We wanted to be able to show what kind of program that we have, and I think we did that very well.”

Panthers finish season with win over New Orleans

Drew Brees' performance as team captain at the midfield coin toss was the closest he came to playing and seemingly the last time his New Orleans Saints had a chance to win in their regularseason finale.

So much for momentum going into the playoffs. The Saints decided to play it safe, and it means a three-game losing streak for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Jonathan Stewart rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown and the Carolina Panthers finished their disappointing season with a 23-10 win over the lifeless Saints on Sunday.

While the Carolina locker room was filled with speculation on whether coach John Fox will be back, if defensive end Julius Peppers will return and who the quarterback will be next season, the Saints were trying to convince folks they can turn it around in two weeks in the divisional round.

“Would I have loved it if we came out here and scored 41 today? I mean, yeah,” Brees said. “But is it worth the risk?”

Chris Johnson passes 2,000 yard rushing mark

Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans has become the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.

The second-year running back ran right, cut back inside and jumped over a teammate for a 4- yard gain early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game at Seattle.

Game officials tossed the ball to the Titans' sideline as Johnson joined Eric Dickerson, Jamal Lewis, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis and O.J. Simpson in the 2,000-yard club.

Otherwise, there was little acknowledgment of Johnson's second major milestone of the day, which came on his 32nd carry and while Seattle's Colin Cole was helped off with an injury.

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