Rutgers 24, Syracuse 7
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP)—Ryan Hart threw a 19-yard touchdown pass and ran 3 yards for another score, helping Rutgers all but end Syracuse’s bowl hopes with a 24-7 victory Saturday over the mistake-prone Orangemen.
Brian Leonard also ran for 138 yards and a touchdown as the Scarlet Knights (5-7, 2-5 Big East) took advantage of three Syracuse mistakes to score three times in a 4:57 span in capping their best season under third-year coach Greg Schiano.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and gave Rutgers its most wins since 1998.
The loss was the third straight and fourth in five games for Syracuse (5-6, 2-5).
With five seven-win teams in the Big East, the only way the Orangemen can get a bowl bid is in the unlikely situation that they beat Notre Dame next week, another conference can’t fulfill its tie-ins and there is no eligible seven-win team in all of Division I-A.
If Syracuse does not get a bowl invitation, it will be the third time in four years and it might put Paul Pasqualoni’s job in jeopardy.
Syracuse, which had beaten Rutgers in 11 of the last 12 games, seemed ready to roll again when Anthony Smith blocked Joe Radigan’s punt on the opening series and Steve Gregory returned it five yards for a touchdown.
Rutgers took control of the game played in 40 mph wind gusts late in the first half, and the wind played a big part.
Syracuse returner Marcus Clayton muffed a high punt at the Syracuse 42 and Derrick Roberson recovered for Rutgers. Hart, who was 19-for-33 for 125 yards, needed only five plays to get to the end zone, covering the final 19 yards on a pass to Tres Moses.
Eddie Grimes got the Scarlet Knights going in the third quarter, intercepting a pass from R.J. Anderson and returning it 51 yards to the 3. Hart scored on a quarterback draw on third and goal for a 14-7 lead.
On the ensuing kick, the wind got a hold of the ball and fooled the Syracuse return team. The ball bounced and Ishmael Medley of Rutgers recovered at the Orangemen 33.
After a false start, Leonard ran four times to get into the end zone to make it 21-7 just 68 seconds after Hart’s score.
Rutgers added to Syracuse’s embarrassment by recovering the ensuing wind-whipped kickoff, but they didn’t take advantage.
Ryan Sands added a 23-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Syracuse had only 21 minutes, 27 seconds of possession and gained 198 yards. Star tailback Walter Reyes was limited to 40 yards on 18 carries.