Rutgers Falls to WVU

The West Virginia Mountaineers (5-1, 2-0 BIG EAST) took advantage of two key early Rutgers (3-2, 1-1 BIG EAST) miscues and turned those mistakes into immediate points. Ultimately, those points were the difference and West Virginia defeated the Scarlet Knights 27-14.

The loss of Sr. LB Terry Bynes proved costlier than expected early on. Missing a key Special Teams assignment, Sr. LB Brad Cunningham allowed Thandi Smith to block a Joe Radigan punt on Rutgers' 18-yard line. Smith came in seemingly untouched and had reached Radigan well before the Sr. Specialist was in his kicking motion. The ball loose and rolling toward the Rutgers endzone was eventually scooped up by Smith who would score the game's first touchdown.

One missed Special Teams assignment. One touchdown.

Rutgers received the ball to start off the game and under windy and monsoon-like conditions, it became clear, three plays and 6 yards of offense later, that the aerial attack Scarlet Knight fans had become used to seeing would be noticeably absent on this day. Despite receiving the subsequent Rutgers punt and starting on its own 42-yard line, West Virginia could muster nothing offensively. Four offensive plays later a game of field position seemed to be underway. With 9:31 left in the opening quarter, West Virginia put together the first semblance of a drive, moving the ball 7 plays and 44 yards. But a missed FG would give the ball right back to Rutgers. With the defense making stops, Ryan Hart and company would begin at their 28 yard line, with a little over 6 minutes left.

A net gain of 8 yards on Rutgers' third possession forced the third Radigan punt of the day and opened the opportunity for Smith's heroics.

Now trailing 7-0, the ensuing Rutgers possession, lasting all of 4 plays, the longest of the day until that time, and resulted in a Ray Rice fumble. WVU would recover the ball and the short field would result in a 5-play, 28-yard touchdown that pushed the Mountaineer lead to 14-0.

Leading the way defensively for the Scarlet Knights were two of the Big East's bright, young stars. Ron Girault continues to cement himself as one of the better overall tacklers in the Conference, repeatedly making key open-field stops that would otherwise have gone for big gains. Girault led both teams with 10 tackles on the day (7 solo). Courtney Greene also added 10 tackles (6 solo).

Ryan Neill's relentless motor never ceases. Often was the case that Neill would contribute on plays by pursuing from the backside. Despite WVU's attempts to not run on Neill, the All-Conference performer still contributed 7 tackles on the day, 3 tackles for loss (TFL), 1 sack (net loss of 5 yards), and 2 QB hurries.

Rutgers was able to manage the clock effectively, at times. Both touchdown drives resulted in a time of possession of over 6 minutes each. Overall the Scarlet Knights held the ball for 33:44, converted on 8 of 17 3rd downs (47%), 2 of 3 4th down conversions, and capitalized on both red-zone opportunities. While WVU racked up 236 yards on the ground to RU's 124, the disparity in total offense was negligible: 314 to 295 in favor of the Mountaineers.

Rutgers threw 3 INTs, lost one fumble, and had a punt blocked resulting in a touchdown.

Rutgers next opponent, the Syracuse Orange (1-4, 0-2) have lost 3 straight games since a 31-0 pasting of the Buffalo Bulls.

During this span, the Orange are allowing opponents a shade over 30 points/game. Despite Syracuse's troubles this year, the Orange generally play their best ball at home and have not lost to Rutgers at the Carrierdome since 1986, a game that saw the Scarlet Knights on the winning end of a 16-10 decision.

Despite previous years, if Rutgers is to begin to make its own fresh new version of history, instead of just repeating its horrid past, the Scarlet Knights will have to defeat the Big East's sole owner of 2 conference losses.

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