Rutgers (6-2, 3-2), which was not invited to a postseason game that year, hasn't played in a bowl game since the Garden State Bowl in 1978. In fact, nobody on Rutgers roster had been born the last time the Scarlet Knights went bowling. "This is the biggest moment of my career here," said senior QB Ryan Hart, who went 18-for-21 for 221 yards. "But we're not done yet. We're bowl eligible, but it doesn't mean we're going to a bowl yet. We've got a lot of football left to play."
Running back Ray Rice, who set a school record for a freshman last week with 217 rushing yards, ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns, the second sealing the game with 5:56 to play. Senior Brian Leonard also scored twice, rushing for 58 yards and two touchdowns and catching a team-high seven passes for 53 yards.
"That was awesome," said Leonard, who caught most of his passes on short screens from Hart. "This is what college football is all about. This is why I came to Rutgers -- why we all did."
"I just stood there and took it all in," he said. "It was neat to see. It's fun to see the students enjoy it the way we did. When we came here (in December of 2000), one of the things we wanted to do was build some pride in the state of New Jersey and what we're doing here at Rutgers University. We're not there yet, but we've sure made progress and it's neat to stand there and watch all of that going on down on the field."
Notes and Quotes
GAME BALL GOES TO: FB Brian Leonard -- The versatile senior did it all for the Scarlet Knights, rushing for 58 yards and two touchdowns and catching a game-high seven passes for 53 more yards and two touchdowns. It's the fifth time this season Leonard has compiled over 100 total yards.
KEEP AN EYE ON: QB Ryan Hart -- The senior started in place of injured freshman Mike Teel and had another solid day, going 18-for-21 for 221 yards. Expect him to be back under center next Saturday against South Florida. QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was kind of crazy. I'm getting stepped on, people were grabbing me; it was pretty special. It was the best stepped-on feeling ever." -- QB Ryan Hart on the post-game celebrations following the win over Navy.
Strategy and Personnel
LOOKING GOOD: The Rutgers running attack is picking up steam heading into the final three games of the season. The Scarlet Knights rushed for four touchdowns and 122 yards against Navy. The ground game also put Rutgers in a lot of short-yardage situations, a major reason the Scarlet Knights went 7-for-14 on third down.
WR Shawn Tucker led Rutgers with 80 yards receiving on four catches. His long of the day was a 27-yard grab from QB Ryan Hart. WR Tres Moses caught four passes for 54 yards and was part of a Rutgers passing game that gained 221 yards.
STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Rutgers needs to do a better job of closing out games. The Scarlet Knights got a late scare from Navy when Lamar Owens grabbed a TD pass to make it 24-21 with 8:24 to play. After holding a comfortable lead much of the game, Rutgers couldn't celebrate until Ray Rice's TD run late in the quarter.
SS Ron Girault grabbed an interception and the sophomore returned it 27 yards to set up Rutgers first touchdown.
DE Ryan Neil helped Rutgers hold Navy to 331 total yards. The senior came up big in the most important game of his career.
ROSTER REPORT: QB Mike Teel sat out with a right (throwing) shoulder injury. He is out indefinitely.