PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Linebacker Khaseem Greene
had an interception, three forced fumbles, 14 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and recovered a fumble to lift No. 19 Rutgers to a 23-15 victory over Syracuse on Saturday.
Greene, a fifth-year senior, showed why he is the reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year and a strong All-American candidate by playing a part in three of Syracuse's four turnovers and leading the Scarlet Knights (6-0, 3-0) to victory in what figures to be the final installment of a northeast rivalry that began in 1914. Duron Harmon
ran 75 yards for a touchdown off after Jamal Merrell blocked a field goal attempt, and Gary Nova
connected with tight end Tyler Kroft for a 12-yard touchdown pass as Rutgers became bowl eligible for the seventh time in eight seasons.
The Scarlet Knights' longest drive of the season resulted in the game's first score, Jawan Jamison
's one-yard run touchdown that capped a 10-play, 93-yard march with five minutes left in the opening quarter.
Syracuse evened the score late in the half when Adonis Ameen-Moore scored on a three-yard run with 1:32 remaining.
The game swung on Syracuse's first two possessions of the third quarter.
The Orange took the kickoff and drove to the Rutgers 15 before settling for a field goal. But Merrell blocked Ross Krautman's 32-yard attempt, and Harmon scooped up the ball and raced 75 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
On the ensuing drive, Syracuse marched to midfield before Scott Vallone and Greene combined for a sack and strip of quarterback Ryan Nassib.
Ka'Lial Glaud recovered the fumble and 11 plays later Nick Borgese kicked a 25-yard field goal to put Rutgers ahead, 17-7, with 3:50 left in the third quarter.
The Scarlet Knights took the ball away again on the first play of the fourth quarter, when Greene forced Syracuse punt returner Steve Rene to fumble and Kevin Snyder recovered the ball at the Orange 14.
Three plays later, Nova hit Kroft for a touchdown pass to make it 23-7.
Syracuse made things interesting midway through the fourth quarter, when Nassib hit Christopher Clark with a 40-yard touchdown pass. Then Nassib hit Marcus Sales with a two-point conversion pass, making it 23-15 with 4:19 remaining.
The Orange got the ball back with a chance to tie at its own 12-yard line two minutes later, but on the first play, Nassib's pass was intercepted by cornerback Brandon Jones.
Rutgers went four-and-out and Syracuse got the ball back for the final time with 21 seconds left. But without a timeout, the Orange couldn't move past its own 45-yard line.
NOTES: Gary Nova finished with 152 yards on 14-for-22 passing for Rutgers, with a touchdown and no interceptions. His favorite target was Brandon Coleman, who made six catches for 104 yards. ... Rutgers improved to 6-0 for the third time since 1976 and the fifth time in the program's 143-year history. ... Kyle Flood became the first Rutgers coach to start his tenure with a 6-0 record. ... The game, played before 48,011 fans, probably marked the final series between the longtime northeast rivals since Syracuse is moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. While Syracuse owns a 30-12-1 all-time series lead, the Scarlet Knights beat the Orange for the sixth time in the last eight meetings. ... Kyle Federico, Rutgers' regular kicker, was held out because of what was termed as a lower-body injury. That left Borgese to handle his first college kicking assignment, and the redshirt freshman walk-on finished 2-for-3 on extra points in addition to his 25-yard field goal. ... Jawan Jamison was bidding to become the third running back in Rutgers' 143-year history to open a season with six consecutive 100-yard games, but was held to 64 yards on 28 carries.