Rutgers goes past Army in passing lane

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- There's no truth that No. 23 Rutgers is headed for a quarterback controversy.
Jawan Jamison threw one touchdown on a halfback-option pass and quarterback Gary Nova threw a go-ahead 31-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Coleman in the fourth quarter to lift the Scarlet Knights to a 28-7 victory over Army on Saturday.
"I hope there's not (a quarterback controversy)," Nova said, laughing after Rutgers secured an eight-win campaign for the sixth time in seven seasons. "I'm going to go talk to coach afterwards and see if I'm all right."
As for Jamison, who rushed for 90 yards in addition to throwing a 16-yard scoring pass to Coleman early in the second quarter, the third-year sophomore is just fine starring in his running back role.
"Not at all," Jamison said. "His job is safe."
For one afternoon in New Jersey, it was all smiles for a Rutgers team that had experienced a tumultuous two-week period since losing to Kent State on Oct. 27.
Despite some anxious moments before Rutgers snapped a 7-7 fourth quarter tie with three touchdowns, the Scarlet Knights offered a positive result for a New Jersey fan base that was impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
"Hopefully we gave the fans of New Jersey a sense of relief and something to enjoy on a Saturday afternoon," said defensive tackle Scott Vallone, who helped key a defensive effort that yielded 282 rushing yards to the nation's leading ground gainers but held Army to one score in four trips inside the Rutgers 30-yard line.
The university held several initiatives to raise money for victims of the storm, which caused catastrophic damage along the Jersey Shore coastline and massive power outages throughout the state on Oct. 29.
And, according to coach Kyle Flood, the Scarlet Knights gave the crowd of 43,250 something to be proud of.
"I can only hope that we gave the people who have been put out by the hurricane a little bit of an escape," Flood said. "Certainly a lot of things going on here and on Staten Island and Long Island; much more important than a football game.
"But we were able to do that and raise some money and provide some much?needed coats and clothing as the weather turns here a little bit. To be able to make a difference, I think that's part of our responsibility."
Nova capped a four-play, 45-yard drive with his scoring pass to Coleman on a backside skinny post with 8:49 left in the game, giving the Scarlet Knights a 14-7 lead.
"We saw a mismatch and Brandon did a good job going up and getting it," said Nova, who finished with 123 yards on 14-for-17 passing.
Rutgers added some insurance after two Army miscues in the final minutes.
After Army's ensuing drive stalled following Rutgers' go-ahead score, a high snap on a punt resulted in a 35-yard loss and the Scarlet Knights took over at the one-yard line.
Two plays later, Savon Huggins iced the victory with a two-yard scoring plunge.
"We knew we needed this win to get back on track," Huggins said. "It was a tough loss a couple weeks ago, and this week showed the character of our team."
With 40 seconds to play, A.J. Schurr of Army fumbled and Duron Harmon returned the ball 73 yards for another touchdown.
"We missed some real opportunities there," said Army coach Rich Ellerson, whose team dropped its ninth straight to Rutgers dating to 1997. "Obviously the kicking game is a disaster. The fourth quarter turned into a bit of a clown act. We battled ourselves in the fourth quarter."
Coleman finished with 53 yards on three receptions and Jamison rushed for 90 yards on 22 carries, as Rutgers proved to be opportunistic against an Army team that held a 337-252 advantage in total yards from scrimmage.
"It feels like we didn't capitalize in the red zone," Army wide receiver Chevaughn Lawrence said. "We marched down, got a couple fumbles, dropped passes, and then we fell apart in the end."
Army (2-8) took the opening drive 76 yards in 16 plays, taking a 7-0 lead when quarterback Trent Steelman avoided three tacklers and cork-screwed into the end zone from one yard.
"It really was ours (for the taking)," said Steelman, who rushed for 102 yards on 26 carries and completed 7-of-17 passes for 55 yards. "Bottom line is, we didn't cash in when we had the opportunities to do so."
Rutgers swung the momentum late in the first quarter, when Marcus Cooper blocked Daniel Grochowski's 43-yard field goal attempt.
"Any time you're able to take points off the board, it's going to work in your favor," Cooper said. "That stopped their attack, and the offense was able to capitalize on it."
Eleven plays later, the Scarlet Knights used some trickery to tie it when Jamison threw his touchdown pass to Coleman with three minutes elapsed in the second quarter.
Army threatened to take a lead into the half, but Jamal Merrell recorded Rutgers' second block of the day and the eighth of the season by batting down Grochowski's 30-yard field goal attempt late in the second quarter.
"It all started with the first (block)," Merrell said. "I noticed it was low, and I used my speed to get through. The second one I just used my height advantage and got it and blocked it."
Twice the Black Knights fumbled inside the 15, including a crucial turnover late in the third quarter, when Khaseem Greene forced the ball loose from fullback Larry Dixon at the 14.
Greene finished with 22 tackles, the fourth-highest total of any player nationally this season, the fifth-best tally in Big East history and the third-highest figure in Rutgers history.
NOTES: Rutgers saluted the Army in several ways throughout the game, wearing silver helmets with a red-white-blue block 'R' logo on the side and a flag-themed stripes running down the middle. Those helmets are expected to be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to Sandy relief fund. In addition, Rutgers linebacker Steve Beauharnais carried a U.S. flag that flew in Afghanistan when the team took the field. Rutgers coach Kyle Flood, who became only the second Rutgers coach to begin his tenure with an 8-1 record, said the flag was presented to the team by Rutgers alum Diane Movshin, the wife of Major Robert Movshin, a Rutgers graduate serving in Afghanistan. ... Rutgers designed a T-shirt featuring the New Jersey outline with the word "stRong" stamped inside the state, and all proceeds from the $15 shirt will be going to the Sandy Relief Fund. The Red Cross was located throughout High Point Solutions Stadium collecting donations, and fans wishing to donating were encouraged to text message REDCROSS to 90999.

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