Two weeks after his good friend, Connecticut cornerback Jasper Howard, was stabbed to death outside a campus dance, Rutgers wideout Tim Brown scored the winning touchdown against the Huskies last Saturday with an 81-yard catch-and-run in the final seconds of the game. The Scarlet Knights trailed 24--21 after a UConn touchdown with 38 seconds left, but on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Brown caught a pass over the middle at his own 37-yard line and sprinted to pay dirt through the middle of the Huskies' secondary. "I almost felt like his angel wings reached down and flew me to the end zone for a touchdown," he said after the game.
It was the first thing approaching a moment of closure for Brown since the senior learned of Howard's death. The two grew up together in Miami's tough Liberty City neighborhood (Brown was older by one year), promising each other that football would get them out one day. Brown missed the funeral outside Miami on Oct. 26—the same day Storrs, Conn., police arrested three suspects in connection with the slaying—to stay with his teammates and prepare for the upcoming date with the Huskies. It was a matchup that he and Howard had been anticipating for months, and Brown knows that Howard would have wanted him to keep his focus on their showdown. "We talked about this game all the time," says Brown. "I actually said, 'I might win the game against you all.' That's why I broke down crying after I scored. I just couldn't believe it."
Before the game Brown gave his jersey to Howard's mother and called Howard's pregnant girlfriend to tell her that he was playing the game for her family. "I was thinking about him the whole game," says Brown. "I wanted to look across the line and see his face."
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
A Maryland high school was stripped of its county cross-country championship because a runner had colored stitching on his compression shorts.
GEOFF BOLTE/SOUTHCREEK GLOBAL (BROWN, FANS)
SIX FIGURES Howard's number was everywhere, including in his pal Brown's heart.