's Top 5 Plays of 2011

Before looks ahead at Rutgers in the 2012 season, we look back at the top moments of 2011 as Sam Hellman and Brian Dohn pick the five most memorable plays.

No. 5
Sam's pick: Logan Ryan returned an interception for touchdown against Pittsburgh, and the "Blackout" win against Pittsburgh sent a message across the country Rutgers was not the same team that lost eight games in 2010. Ryan, who earned a helmet sticker from Lou Holtz for his efforts, made two interceptions and returned one 45 yards for a score in the 34-10 win.
Brian's pick: Rutgers dominated but was up only one score midway through the fourth quarter when Brandon Coleman out-maneuvered a cornerback, caught a pass from Chas Dodd and finished off an 86-yard touchdown and Iowa State in the process. It also gave the Scarlet Knights a fifth bowl win in their last five bowl games.

No. 4
Sam's pick: Jordan Thomas' return of a blocked punt for touchdown against Army came as Rutgers was close to blowing a fourth-quarter lead. Army was still in the game in the fourth quarter until safety Wayne Warren blocked a punt and Thomas scooped and scored from 32 yards out to put Rutgers up by eight points.
Brian's pick: Rutgers is known for big plays on special teams, and one came in the closing minutes against Navy when Brandon Jones came off the edge and blocked a field goal attempt with 4:43 to play to preserve a 21-20 win.

No. 3
Sam's pick: Rutgers was in jeopardy of losing on Homecoming against the Midshipmen and nursing a one-point lead late in the fourth quarter when Jones flew in from a perfect angle and saved the 21-20 victory with a blocked field goal.
Brian's pick: Despite a couple of missed field goals, Rutgers had a chance to rally and beat Louisville. Junior receiver Mark Harrison was behind the Cardinals' defense and quarterback Gary Nova put the ball on target. And Harrison had it go through his hands, Rutgers lost, and it cost Rutgers its margin of error.

No. 2
Sam's pick: Jeremy Deering's kickoff return was the spark for a comeback against South Florida, but Mohamed Sanu's catch was the turning point. Sanu had four or five catches this season that could have made this list, but none were as critical as his conversion of 4th and 9 against the Bulls. On the game-tying drive, Sanu caught seven passes for 60 yards.
Brian's pick: The offense was stagnant and quarterback uncertainty grew from it, but Rutgers pulled out a stunning overtime win at Syracuse, and the big play came when linebacker Jamal Merrell forced a fumble and Rutgers recovered to end the game. It gave the Scarlet Knights a win, and much-needed confidence in winning a road game despite the offense playing poorly.

No. 1
Sam's pick: The season was going downhill fast. After losing a second-half lead the week prior against West Virginia, the Scarlet Knights were about to make it two losses in a row when it trailed USF by 14 points with seven minutes to play. Deering, however, kept his head up and sparked a memorable comeback and eventual 20-17 overtime victory.
Brian's pick: Deering's kickoff return was the spark Rutgers needed to begin its comeback against South Florida, but it was Mohamed Sanu's one-handed, fourth-down catch to extend the game-tying drive in the final minutes that defined his and Rutgers' season.
The ball was well behind Sanu, who reached back and tipped it to himself before making the catch while on the ground.

Scarlet Report Top Stories