Winds of Change Blow Across the Banks
Behind the stalwart New Jersey Barrier known as the Rutgers offensive line, Brian Leonard ran for 138 yards on 37 carries to lead Rutgers past the visiting Syracuse Orangemen 24-7. Much like previous contests against Boston College and Miami, Rutgers did little other than attempt to establish the run early and often. However, Greg Schiano's persistence payed off as Rutgers pulled away early in the 3rd quarter and the Scarlet Knights used their now potent rushing attack to whittle away at the clock throughout the 4th quarter.
The contest started dubiously for the Rutgers offense as a quick 3-n-out paved the way for an opening series punt by Joe Radigan. Against hardly any push by the Syracuse line, the Orange blocked Radigan's punt attempt which was recovered by Steve Gregory and run back for the opening touchdown of the game. The rest of the half featured little offensive ingenuity and even less offensive performance as the 20-30mph breeze, with gusts topping 40mph dictated much of the play.
Late in the 2nd quarter, after another Rutgers punt from deep in their own territory, Marcus Clayton mishandled the ball which was recovered by Derrick Roberson and returned for 7. However, in college football, a misplayed punt cannot be advanced, and Rutgers instead recovered at the Syracuse 42 yard line. Like a precision offense that had been missing all game, Ryan Hart engineered a 5 play drive, capped by a 19 yard touchdown pass to wideout Tres Moses. Rutgers and Syracuse would head into the locker room deadlocked at 7.
The winds of change blew in earnest in the 3rd quarter. Syracuse, which chose to defer the ball to begin the contest, received the opening second half kickoff. This fleeting advantage was just that, as Eddie Grimes intercepted a pass from R.J. Anderson and returned it to the Syracuse 3 yard line. On third-n-goal, Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart ran the ball into the endzone on a designed quarterback draw call that had the Syracuse defense caught off-guard. On the ensuing kickoff, the wind grabbed a hold of the ball and completely fooled the Orange return team - Ishmael "Ish" Medley recovered the gift at the Syracuse 33 yard line from where the Rutgers offense started once more. 68 seconds later and 4 more Brian Leonard carries and Rutgers was dancing in the endzone once more. Rutgers managed to recover the ensuing kickoff, as the Syracuse return team was once again wind-whipped, but the Scarlet Knights could not take advantage. However, the damage was done.
Rutgers simply ran the ball at will in the 4th quarter, daring the Orange defense to step up. They didn't and the Scarlet Knights ran the clock down and walked away with the Signature Win The State of Rutgers has been waiting for.
Things to Feel Good About:
Greg Schiano: The performance by this man cannot be overemphasized. He, more than anyone else, deserved this win due to the criticism he has received despite his stellar performance and desire to be here when noone else would.
The Seniors: An ode to them is well deserved because it is THIS bunch that left Rutgers as the first winners of the Greg Schiano era.
Coach Ver Steeg and the Rutgers Offense: Coming into this contest, the Rutgers offense had improved by a whopping 175 yards per game over last year. Improvement was necessary, but improvement by this magnitude was not expected.
The Future of RUTGERS Football: The future is here. The corner has been turned. It's a shame if you've missed the ride.
Things to Feel Bad About:
None: Enjoy the off-season. Next year, renewed expectations will have this team bowling, AND MORE...
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