Josh McCown threw for three touchdowns, and former UConn star Andre Dixon rushed for 96 yards on 21carries to lead the Hartford Colonials over the Sacramento Mountain Lions, 27-10, before 14,384 fans at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Saturday afternoon.
McCown, who had a superb opening game, connected on 11 of 21 passes for 265 yards and did not throw an interceptions. His offensive line gave him plenty of support, as the seven-year NFL veteran was sacked just once in the contest.
Hartford opened the scoring on a four-yard pass from McCown to Jason Cherry with 9:22 remaining in the first period. The four-play drive was highlighted by a 46-yard pass from McCown to Cherry that set the Colonials up with first-and-goal from the Sacramento six.
The Colonials’ second scoring drive was a far more deliberate 16-play affair lasting 7:18 and culminating with a 34-yard field goal from Taylor Mehlhaff giving Hartford a 10-0 advantage with 11:33 remaining in the first half.
The Colonials opened up a 17-0 margin on their next possession thanks to a 59-yard touchdown pass from McCown to Chery.
After yet another three-and-out by Sacramento midway through the second period, the Colonials’ Marshall McDuffie blocked a punt attempt by Sacramento’s Tom Malone, and Simoni Lawrence recovered the ball for Hartford on the Mountain Lions’ 20.
Reserve quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, who saw action in about three or four series, came in to direct the offense. On his first play he rolled left, saw no one, then took off for the goal line, finally being pushed out at the Sacramento four. But the Hartford drive stalled there and the Colonials settled for another field goal from Mehlhaff, this one from 20 yards, upping their margin to 20-0 with 5:00 left in the half.
Less than a minute into the third quarter, McCown hit running back Lorenzo Booker with a short five-yard pass in the right flat, and Booker did the rest, galloping 80-yards for a touchdown—the longest scoring play in UFL history—staking Hartford to a 27-0 lead, and for all practical purposes, putting the game on ice. “The big plays really hurt us and they came in many different ways,” said Sacramento head coach Dennis Green.
Culpepper was finally able to mount a sustained drive, taking the Mountain Lions deep into Hartford territory, but the drive stalled on the Colonials’ five yard line, and Green inexplicably opted to go for three, with a chip shot by Fabrizio Scaccia cutting the Hartford advantage to 27-3 with 6:45 remaining in the third.
Early in the fourth period, Sacramento put together a 12-play, 72-yard touchdown drive culminating in a five-yard scoring pass from Culpepper to find Joe West in the corner of the end zone. Saccio’s extra point was good, and the Mountain Lions cut the Hartford lead to 27-10 with 7:37 left in the game.
Culpepper had a long afternoon, completing 21 of 40 passes for 174 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Hartford’s defense forced Sacramento to punt seven times, tying a league record.
“They did a good job with their front four,” said Culpepper after the game. “They had high energy. They did a good job of staying in my face and making it difficult for us to run the ball or throw it.”
Chery caught two passes for the Colonials, for 59 and 44 yards. Booker rushed for 51 yards on nine carries, while wideout Patrick Carter had five receptions for 51 yards.
“To out move the ball and put up points the way we did, we’re pleased,” said McCown. “But we’re not satisfied. We left some points out there on a few drives.”
“I think what people saw was a good football team that got after you,” added Colonials head coach and general manager Chris Palmer. “And I think they felt very much part of the game.”
The game was particularly bittersweet for Hartford linebacker Frantz Joseph, one of three men selected as captain earlier this week. Joseph’s 38-year-old brother died earlier in the day. The team offered to send him home to Florida immediately to be with his family, but Joseph opted to stay and play in the season opener. He was awarded the game ball after the victory.
The Colonials now head to Nebraska where they will take on Jeff Garcia, Ahman Green, Maurice Clarett, and the Omaha Nighthawks Friday night at Rosenblatt Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m., and the game will be televised nationally on HDNet. After a bye in week three, the Colonials will return to home to entertain the Florida Tuskers on Sat., Oct. 9. Kick-off will be at 3 p.m. at Rentschler Field.
- Movie star Denzell Washington was spotted in the crowd. His son, John David Washington, is a running back for the Mountain Lions.
- Former UConn linebacker Danny Lansanah was credited with three tackles for the Colonials.
- The game was televised throughout Connecticut and all of New England on the New England Sports Network.
- Believe it or not, the 14,384 fans in attendance represented the highest regular-season standard in UFL history, breaking the 14,292 mark set in Las Vegas last year.
- Hartford’s 448 total yards set the league’s single-game standard. The previous best was 429 by Florida.
1 2 3 4 Total
Sacramento 0 0 3 7 10
Hartford 7 13 7 0 27
H- MarkeeWhite, 4-yd pass from Josh McCown. Taylor Mehlhaff kick.
H- Mehlhaff 34-yd FG
H- Jason Chery 59-yd pass from McCown. Melhaff kick
H- Mehlhaff 20-yd FG
H- Lorenzo Booker 80-yd pass from McCown. Mehlhaff kick
S- Fabrizio Scaccia 21-yd FG
S- J West 5-yd pass from Daunte Culpepper. Scaccia kick.