Former Player Perspective of the Navy Game - Marco Battaglia
Hello Rutgers friends! My name is Marco Battaglia. I was fortunate enough to play tight end for the Scarlet Knights from 1991-1995. I was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1996. I spent my first six years in Cincinnati and the past four on a number of different NFL teams. In so much as the change of cities has been challenging, the constant support of my wife Maria, daughter Ava (4) and son Marco (19 months) have made things easier.
I'm currently on the Pittsburgh Steelers injured reserved list due to a knee injury suffered in training camp. I spend most of my days healing and enjoying being a husband and a father to my wife and children.
Before the Game
Before I give my synopsis of the game, I would like to take the opportunity to speak about homecoming and the amazing energy it gave off. Although it might be hard to believe, this was my very first time back for homecoming and my first experience tailgating. I thought fan turnout was great and I was especially impressed with the number of returning letter winners. I think we should thank Coach Schiano for making former letter winners feel so welcome back on the banks. The fans enthusiasm and support was evident throughout the game, making this a very electric day.
Given that I've seen a lot of football, I felt the team had great contributions in all three phases of the game (offense, defense, special teams).
In the first quarter, we got off to a good start offensively after getting great field position due to an interception by Ron Girault, one of our young and athletic secondary. We capitalized by punching it in for six like good teams should.
Then in the second quarter after a defensive stop and navy punt, our Scarlet Knights once again were the beneficiaries of great field position. We took advantage of our defensive stop and added another six points putting us up 14-0. I would like to underscore at this point the importance of getting good field position. Still in the second quarter after surrendering a big play touchdown (14-7) to a very good rushing navy team, our defensive secondary again came up with yet another huge turnover. This gave the offense great field position once again. The field position battle was surely in our favor due to our defensive holds, forced turnovers and special teams play. We then go up 21-7 on a Ray Rice three yard touchdown run, and finish off a strong first half.
I would like to stress the importance of what went on in the third quarter, and describe how our team showed great maturity. The navy mid shipman take the opening drive of the second half for 15 plays 74 yards and ate up 6:22 minutes of clock. This cut the score score to 21-14. In response to this long drive, our 2005 scarlet knights showed true mental toughness. On the ensuing possession our offense grinds out its own 14 play 77 yard drive consuming 7:34 minutes of clock time. Jeremy Ito kicked an 18 yard field goalto finish off the drive and give our knights a two score lead 24-14. This marked a true turning point in the game and possibly the season. It also nearly took us to the end of a very fast moving third quarter.
The fourth quarter was highlighted by matching touchdowns making the score 31-21. The closeness of the score kept the game interesting until our Scarlet Knights defense sealed the deal and the game with a third interception in the last minute of the game. Rutgers homecoming fans had something great to come home to. A Scarlet Knight 31-21 victory.
I would like to congratulate our team on a great win, a great team effort and for making the 2005 season one where we are now bowl eligible. This is not to say that we should take anything for granted, WARNING, the season is far from over, and there is more football to be played. We have a great opportunity here that some players may never get again let's seize it.
Best Wishes Scarlet Knights on a great season,
Marco Battaglia signing out