Sanu steals show as Scarlet Knights defeat Army at Yankee Stadium
Despite a sluggish effort throughout much of the game, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers managed to make enough big plays to knock off the Army Black Knights of the Hudson, 27-12, in front over 30,000 fans in their return to playing a meaningful game at Yankee Stadium, their first since 1948.
The win, coupled with the Cincinnati Bearcats losing at home to West Virginia earlier in the day, sets up a battle for first place next week between the schools on Rutgers' home field.
"Well, that was certainly a fun football game to be a part of", said RU head coach Greg Schiano. "My hats off to Army, they showed us things we had not seen from them. They did some plays that we had not seen on video, ever. You have to adjust to that, and I thought our kids did great tonight."
Army opened the scoring early in the 1st quarter after running back Larry Dixon ran for 55 yards down to the Rutgers 3 yard line. Facing a 4th and Goal at the 1, head coach Rich Ellerson opted to send out kicker Eric Osteen for an 18-yard Field Goal for a 3-0 lead. When asked why he decided not to go for the touchdown following the game, Ellerson responded, "It was a long yard,we had struggled down there a little bit. I wasn't confident given the conditions (of the playing field). I wanted the lead, I wanted to come away with points."
After forcing Rutgers to punt, quarteback Angel Santiago drove The Black Knights down the field and Osteen came on again to kick a 19-yard field goal, where on the previous play Santiago was thought to have fumbled at the 1 yard line, but an instant replay review by the game officials reversed the call.
Trailing 6-0 in the second quarter, quarterback Chas Dodd and the Rutgers offense started to wake up. On the strength of running back Jeremy Deering, the Scarlet Knights drove down to the Army 3 yard line, where Dodd hit fullback Michael Burton out of the backfield for a Touchdown to tie the game. However, the usually reliable Rutgers kicker San San Te failed to convert the point-after attempt keeping the game knotted at 6-6, where it remained at halftime.
When the Scarlet Knights returned from the locker room to start the 3rd Quarter, the game quickly turned into the Mohamed Sanu show. Sanu, the 6-2 juinor wideout who is playing for his hometown school, repeatedly got behind the Army defenders to keep the drive moving downfield, which cullminated with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Dodd to fellow wideout Brandon Coleman. A successful PAT game Rutgers a 13-6 lead.
With the majority of the Army offense centered around their running game (they lead the nation in rushing yards heading into the game) Santiago did his best to become a one-man show with continuous runs from center throughout the game. Although most of Army's drives ended with punts or a turnover on downs, he finished with 72 yards rushing on 30 attempts. "I love the way he goes out there and competes", said Ellerson. "He threw the ball better than we expected. The offense didn't turn it over, which was encouraging".
The same could not be said for the Rutgers offense, as Chas Dodd threw two key interceptions to halt drives for the Scarlet Knights. Army turned one of those picks into points when Larry Dixon capped the drive with a 2 yard touchdown run to bring the Black Knights within a point. However, Eric Osteen missed the extra point keeping Rutgers in the lead, 13-12.
Rutgers responded with more offensive output from Sanu, who finished with 13 grabs for 129 yards. In the second half, he managed to pass both Tennesse Titans' WR Kenny Britt's reception record (87) set three years ago, as well as becoming the all-time Big East leader in catches by one over Arizona Cardinals' all-pro wideout Larry Fitzgerald with 93. Fitzgerald had set the previous record in 2003 as a member of the Pitt Panthers.
The fourth quarter saw the game completely turn in Rutgers' favor. Army had appeared to take the lead with a 51 yard touchdown run by running back Stepher Frazer, but the play was negated by a tripping penalty. Army was forced to punt, and this time it was blocked by defensive back Wayne Warren, and ultimately scooped up by fellow DB Jordan Thomas who took it to the end zone 32 yards away. After a successful PAT, the Scarlet Knights had a 20-12 lead with just over six minutes to go in the game.
"Every time we go out there, we expect there to be a blocked punt, we practice it every
day", said Thomas after the game.
The Scarlet Knights iced the game with two minutes to play when freshman running back Jawan Jamison scampered for 56 yards and a touchdown, which gave Rutgers a 27-12 lead after a made point after attempt. The Black Knights had one last possession but ended up turning the ball over on downs again.
Afterwards, Schiano was complimentary of his opponent, whom he now holds a 7-0 lifetime record against.
"I don't believe we dominated them, they are a good football team", said Schiano. "We don't have destiny in our hands right now, so we have to go out there and play our best football."
Ellerson had a final word on the effort of his team, when he said he was, "Proud of how our football team continues to play had and bounce back, but we have to play better." He added, "God bless the guys hanging together. They're fighting hard, and their close, their real close."
Former Rutgers LB Eric LeGrand took part in the coin toss before the game with Army's Malcolm Brown, whom he tackled on the last play of his college career last season when the teams met at what is now MetLife Stadium. He later joined commentators Gary Thorne and Randy Cross in the CBS Sports Network broadcast booth during the season half of the game.
Notes: Rutgers: "Other than the two INT's, I felt that I had a real solid night, and we got the running game going", said Chas Dodd, who went 17 for 27 with 196 yards passing, two TD's and two interceptions. His counterpart, Angel Santiago, was 6 for 15 for 77 yards passing, with no TD's or INT's for Army.
photo by Feldman
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