Welcome back to The Terry Baltimore Cup, a 12-play tournament to pick the best play in UConn football history. We've reached the semifinals where the four plays that got a first-round bye will have to defend themselves. We had two votes yesterday and have our final two today. If you haven't you should go vote in our first contest. Our final one is Larry Taylor's Fair Catch vs. Jordan Todman's fourth-down conversion. You have until 6 a.m. tomorrow to vote for your favorite.
Today's first contestent is Larry Taylor's "un"fair catch against Louisville. Here's what we wrote about it last week:
It may be hard to remember now, but at the start of 2007 Louisville was widely considered a national title contender. By the time they visited East Hartford those dreams had already fallen apart (they were 4-3 and the world was just beginning to see the damage Steve Kragthorpe could do), but for an upstart Husky team sitting on a 5-1 record the Cardinals posed a formidable challenge.
Things started out poorly -- UConn was shut out in the first half -- but the Huskies got a massive boost from a little returner when Larry Taylor took a third quarter punt 74 yards to the end zone. Of course that description leaves out what made the play so memorable: Taylor's did he or didn't he fair catch signal. In a lovely bit of trickery, Taylor conferenced with a referee before the play, clarifying that to signal a fair catch he needed to wave his arm back and forth over his head. With that image implanted in the ref's brain, Taylor then raised his arm, not making the full signal. Louisville's defenders pulled up, Taylor took off, the refs did nothing and UConn was on the board.
This was merely the craziest play in an absurd game -- Lousiville took what appeared to be a commanding 17-7 lead before a late Husky comeback and UConn fans showered the field with novelty wigs when the refs took away what appeared to be a UConn fumble recovery on Louisville's one yard line -- but it was the spark that ignited a magical three-game stretch that sent the Huskies to heights that wouldn't be topped until they made the BCS three years later.
Taylor's touchdown return is taking on Jordan Todman's fourth-down conversion against Pitt. Our description:
It takes a rare set of circumstances for a three-yard run inside of UConn's territory to merit consideration for "best play ever" status, but this run certainly deserves it. Leading by tw0 with about two and a half minutes left, Randy Edsall made a fateful decision: he would risk the lead and the game by going for it on fourth down on UConn's 19 yard line. The stakes were high for UConn, which was coming off its first ever win over West Virginia and appeared to have an outside shot at winning the conference -- if they could be Pitt.
The conservative (and probably sensible move) at this point would have been punting. A turnover on downs would have meant a near certain Pittsburgh timeout, plus the Panthers could have taken some time off the clock (and forced UConn to use its two remaining timeouts) before daring Zach Frazer (9 of 20 on the day) to lead a comeback in the closing seconds. But Randy Edsall, for only the second time in his life, decided that the conservative route wasn't for him. And... it worked. It worked beautifully. Jordan Todman was able to pick up the necessary yard and then some and UConn went on to win the game and eventually earn a BCS bid.