Defense, turnovers help Rutgers remain unbeaten

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- If you're wondering how Rutgers wants to play football, the Scarlet Knights' 19 -3 triumph over Connecticut on Saturday offered a pretty good blueprint.
Jawan Jamison rushed for 110 yards to record his fifth consecutive 100-yard outing, Gary Nova
threw for 157 yards and a touchdown while engineering a mistake-free offense, and the Big East's top-rated defense lived up to its billing by forcing five turnovers and keeping the Huskies out of the end zone.
It all added up to another convincing win for Rutgers, which improved to 5-0 for the seventh time in its 143 years of college football and first since 2006.
"If you could bottle today's game, you'd see Rutgers football,'' said Scarlet Knights coach Kyle
Flood, who became the second coach in Rutgers history to start his tenure 5-0 and the first since
John Bateman 52 years ago.
"We had a 100-yard rusher. We were able to protect the quarterback. I think (Nova) completed 67 percent of his passes. We played tremendous run defense. We got them to turn the ball over. And we made significant plays in the kicking game. That's really what we think (Rutgers football) is.''
Nova's 14-yard touchdown pass to Mark Harrison six minutes into the third quarter increased
Rutgers' three-point halftime lead to 13-3, and the Scarlet Knights' defense did the rest in holding
its conference foe to 244 yards of total offense.
"When you're able to stop the run, it opens up a lot of things,'' said Rutgers nose tackle Scott
Vallone, the leader of the defensive line that helped limit Connecticut to 53 rushing yards.
"They're a team that's committed to stopping the run. So we stopped that, and that led to the kind
of turnovers we pride ourselves on.''
Rutgers capitalized on two Connecticut first-quarter turnovers to take 6-0 lead. After Logan Ryan intercepted a Chandler Whitmer pass, Rutgers moved 17 yards in seven plays before Kyle Federico drilled a 45-yard field goal. The ensuing kickoff was fumbled by Nick Williams and the Scarlet Knights then went 15 yards in six plays before their freshman place-kicker booted a 31-yard field goal.
Connecticut (3-3) capitalized on Rutgers' bid to make it 9-0 as Shamar Stephen blocked Federico's 51-yard field goal attempt. The Huskies marched 43 yards to the Rutgers 2 but were forced to settle for a Chad Christen 19-yard field goal.
"I thought the first half of the game we fought hard,'' Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni said.
"We had two turnovers and I thought the defense did a really good job of just giving up two field
goals. We need to take advantage of the scoring opportunities, getting more out of the scoring
opportunities that we had.''
The Huskies hardly threatened the rest of the way, missing a 51-yard field goal try to close the
first half and never getting beyond Rutgers' 37-yard line in the second half.
"We missed a lot of opportunities,'' said Connecticut quarterback Chandler Whitmer, who had 191 yards on 14-of-32 passing and was intercepted four times. "Rutgers has a good defense and a good team. I give a lot of credit to them, but we didn't execute.''
After outgaining Connecticut 108-106 in total yardage through the first 30 minutes, Rutgers
dominated the second half with a 172-134 advantage. Jamison did plenty of the damage, rushing for 72 of his 110 yards in the second half.
"I'm proud of my o-line, I'm proud of my defense for what they were able to do and I'm proud of
my team for the way we pulled out this win,'' said Jamison, who upped his Big East-leading rushing total to 601 yards for the season. "My o-line is doing a tremendous job: No sacks allowed and the run protection is solid. We're rolling right now.''
Rutgers won the turnover battle 5-1, with three of its interceptions coming in the game's final
four minutes.
Wayne Warren capped the scoring with a 25-yard touchdown return after an interception, and
Khaseem Greene and Marcus Cooper each got into the act with picks as Connecticut finished with a season-worst five turnovers.
"That definitely was all us today,'' said Greene, who posted a team-high eight tackles and three
quarterback hurries for Rutgers. "We're just going to go out and continue showing the world what
we're capable of doing.''
Notes: Connecticut played the opening quarter without its leading rusher, Lyle McCombs, who was benched for violating team rules. The Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported on its web site Saturday morning that McCombs was arrested early Friday morning on campus on a second-degree breach of peace misdemeanor charge and released on a $500 bond. McCombs, the Big East's leading rusher last season, entered the game ranked fifth in the conference with 452 rushing yards and finished with 32 yards on 12 carries Saturday. ... For the third time in the program's 143 years of college football, the Scarlet Knights wore all-black uniforms in what the school billed as a "blackout'' affair. With much of the crowd of 50,870 following suit with the all-black attire, Rutgers' players had its mantra, F.A.M.I.L.Y., etched across the back of their jerseys rather than their individual names. ... Connecticut fell to 1-18 all time against ranked opponents, with its only upset occurring over then-No. 11 South Florida on Oct. 27, 2007. ... Connecticut senior linebacker Jory Johnson led all defensive players with 10 tackles. ... Rutgers has won four of the last five games over Connecticut and now leads the series 22-10. It was the fewest points for the Huskies in a game against Rutgers since dropping a 10-0 decision in 1978. .... The Scarlet Knights won their first game as a ranked team since 2007. ... Rutgers is 2-0 in the Big East for the third time since conference play began in 1991, and the first since 2006. ... The Scarlet Knights have outscored their opponents 38-3 in the third quarter of games this season.

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