EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Alex Carder threw for a career-high 479 yards and five touchdowns to lead Western Michigan to a 38-31 win over Connecticut on Saturday.
Two of those scores were caught by Jordan White, who had his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season, catching 12 balls for 173 yards. He was one of three Bronco receivers to go over the century mark.
Robert Arnheim had 113 yards and Chleb Ravenell added 123 and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 41-yard catch that turned out to be the game winner.
Johnny McEntee threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns for UConn (2-3). Kashif Moore had two touchdown catches and 112 yards receiving and Lyle McCombs added 136 yards rushing and a 26-yard touchdown reception for the Huskies.
But UConn tight end Ryan Griffin fumbled after making a 26-yard catch at the Western Michigan 13-yard line with 45 seconds left and the Broncos held on to beat a BCS conference opponent for the first time this season.
The teams, which combined for 941 yards of offense, were tied at 17 going into what turned out to be a wild fourth quarter.
UConn scored the first of that quarter’s five touchdowns, when McEntee found McCombs wide open behind the Broncos’ blitzing linebackers for a 26-yard score to give UConn its only lead at 24-17.
But Carder led the Broncos right back on a 9-play 80-yard drive, finding White in the right side of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown that tied the game.
The Broncos held UConn to a three-and-out, and then went 62-yards to take the lead again on a 14-yard pass from Carder to Ravenell.
UConn tied it again when McEntee scrambled and found Nick Williams on a fourth down from 26 yards out with just over 2 minutes left.
But that was more than enough time for the Broncos.
Two plays after UConn’s kickoff went out of bounds, Ravenell raced down the right sideline and reached over cornerback Gary Wilburn to bring in a 41-yard touchdown with 1:35 left.
The Broncos, who had just 11 yards rushing, spent much of the afternoon picking on Wilburn, who played in place of injured Huskies captain Blidi Wreh-Wilson.
Arnheim beat Wilburn down the right sideline and made a one-handed 32-yard catch to set up the Broncos second touchdown, an 11-yard pass from Carder to tight end Dallas Walker.
After a first quarter that saw Western Michigan get more penalty yards (35) than offense (28), Carder and White began clicking in the second.
The Broncos went 66 yards on their first drive of that quarter and scored when White grabbed a slant pass and dragged several UConn defenders into the end zone for a 25-yard catch and run.
The Huskies didn’t cross midfield until McCombs took a handoff at his own 7-yard line with just over 6 minutes left in the half, bounced off a tackle and ran 65 yards before tripping on the grass.
That set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from McEntee to Moore, who juggled the ball, but managed to get a foot down in the back of the end zone.
Moore’s second touchdown, a 3-yard reception on a play-action fake, was set up by his 47-yard catch and run. The 5-play 72-yard drive brought UConn to within 17-14 midway through the third quarter.
This was Western Michigan’s third game this year against a team coming off a bowl appearance. The Broncos lost to Michigan 34-10 in a storm-shortened season opener, before falling to Illinois 23-20 on the road last week. They face three more bowl teams this season — Northern Illinois, Toledo and Miami (Ohio).
Western Michigan improved to 3-8 against the Big East. The Broncos lost their only other meeting with UConn, 41-27 in 2003.
Connecticut, which beat Buffalo 17-3 a week ago, fell to 17-3 against the Mid-American Conference.
Huskies running back D.J. Shoemate, who was expected to start for Connecticut this season, did not dress for the game, and will seek a medical redshirt this season. Coach Paul Pasqualoni said Shoemate has a severally separated shoulder, suffered in a loss to Iowa State.
This loss comes at the end of a week in which Connecticut’s governor confirmed the school has an interest in joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, if that league expands further after poaching Big East teams Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
UConn’s president, Susan Herbst, is in Washington this weekend for a meeting with other Big East schools.