Greene leads the way as Rutgers goes to 6-0

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene isn't about to request a parade after the No. 19-ranked Scarlet Knights became bowl-eligible with their 23-15 victory over Syracuse on Saturday.
"It means a lot but it's just another step on our journey," said the fifth-year senior, who had an interception, three forced fumbles, 14 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in a dominant defensive effort.
"The value of being 6-0 is it allows us to be 7-0. We know where we ultimately want to be at the end of the season."
Duron Harmon ran 75 yards for a touchdown 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.
Ryan Nassib passed for 356 yards and a touchdown on 25-for-42 passing, but Syracuse's quarterback threw two interceptions that cost the Orange offense on a day when they outgained Rutgers, 418-237, in total offense.
Nova finished with 152 yards on 14-for-22 passing and turned in his fourth consecutive game without an interception for Rutgers, which prevailed by winning the turnover battle, 4-0.
"We have to stop turning the ball over," said Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, whose squad dropped to 2-4 overall and 1-1 in the Big East. "It's very, very simple.
"Laying the ball on the ground and throwing the ball where we were throwing it at times, it's just very, very difficult to overcome."
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.
"It was great just to hear the fans screaming, seeing my teammates lead me up the sideline," Harmon said. "That's a big momentum shift.
"Any time you can get a big play where you score on special teams or defense, it just lifts the overall team. That's what it did. It gave us a big jump, and after that we were off and gone."
On the ensuing drive, Syracuse marched to midfield before Scott Vallone and Greene combined for a sack and strip of 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.
"It's really frustrating," said Nassib, who the Big East's leading passer who surpassed 300 yards passing for the fourth time in six games this season. "We worked so hard and then go out and hurt ourselves."
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.
"I thought it was a really fine game by the entire team," said coach Kyle Flood, who became the first coach Rutgers' 143-year football history to start his tenure with a 6-0 record.
"It's exciting to be bowl-eligible again. As I've said before, our goals are bigger than that. But it is something you work very hard for. And as you go through a season there certainly are milestones or levels of success that you're able to achieve."
NOTES: Rutgers improved to 6-0 for the third time since 1976 and the fifth time in the program's 143-year history. ... 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 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 history to open a season with six consecutive 100-yard games, but was held to 64 yards on 28 carries. ... Rutgers won its first game as a Top 20 team since 2007. ... Syracuse was held to 62 yards rushing, marking the seventh straight opponent that Rutgers has held under 100 yards on the ground. ... Rutgers is 3-0 in the Big East for the first time since 2006, and the second time since play in the conference began in 1991. ... The Scarlet Knights have outscored their opponents, 48-3, in the third quarter this season, including 10-0 on Saturday.

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