UConn wins the Motor City Bowl in Dan Orlovsky's last game

Originally published Dec. 28, 2004.

Some things just seem like they are meant to be.

The UConn football team has made such a habit of moving forward and breaking new ground that a victory in the Motor City Bowl seemed almost inevitable.

The Huskies made sure they got that victory, leveling Toledo 39-10 Monday before an announced crowd of 52,552 at Ford Field.

UConn won its first bowl appearance with a dominant performance aided by Toledo quarterback Bruce Gradkowski's injured throwing hand.

``We've had a certain amount of steppingstones,'' UConn quarterback Dan Orlovsky said. ``To have this win and cap off a phenomenal season and four or five years is unimaginable. It's extremely gratifying and just an honor to be a part of it.

``I've heard a lot of people say, `UConn has arrived. UConn has arrived.' UConn has arrived now, literally. They're on the map. They have a bowl game win.''

The Huskies took a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and were never threatened. They led 30-7 at the half.

Orlovsky completed 20 of 41 passes for 239 yards, including touchdowns to Jason Williams and Brian Sparks.

Freshman Larry Taylor provided the biggest boost, scoring on a 68-yard punt return and returning a kickoff 54 yards to set up another touchdown.

The UConn defense, aided by the return of defensive end Tyler King (four tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, fumble recovery), held Toledo to its lowest point total of the season.

Gradkowski, who had surgery Dec. 3 on a fractured right hand, played poorly in the first half. X-rays at halftime revealed he had another fracture and he didn't return.

The all-time Toledo leader in touchdown passes, Gradkowski completed 6 of 12 passes for 43 yards.

``I came into the game thinking I could get through because I did in the MAC championship game,'' he said. ``It was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. I just couldn't physically do it.''

Gradkowski was replaced by freshman Marques Council, who was 16 of 28 for 160 yards with two interceptions.

Toledo coach Tom Amstutz tipped his hat to UConn.

``They were the better team,'' he said. ``We just didn't have all the guys going.''

Toledo also played without top running back Scooter McDougle, who sustained a knee injury when the Rockets (9-4) won the Mid-American Conference title Dec. 2.