RU Defeats Top-3 Team for 2nd Year in a Row

RU was an underdog last year when they hosted a top-5 Louisville team on a Thursday night. The Scarlet Knights found themselves in a similar role this year against No. 2 South Florida. In both games, Rutgers picked up a huge win in front of a national television audience. Rutgers (5-2, 2-1) held off South Florida (6-1, 1-1) 30-27 to complete the upset in front of 44,267 people in Rutgers Stadium.

"Last year it was new," Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano said. "We hadn't had that opportunity. I'm not saying its old habit by any means, but its one game in the BIG EAST conference. It's a very tough conference. You see people getting knocked off every week. It's one of seven and now we're 2-1 in the league."

RU running back Ray Rice had his best game of the season carrying the ball 39 times for 181 yards. Rice was able to fight off defenders and run through tackles to gain extra yards when necessary.

"I think Ray has run tremendously all year," Coach Schiano said. "He just keeps running harder and harder. Last week, he ran as hard as I have seen him run, and I think he did it again tonight. He was carrying people on his back. He's on a mission."

South Florida did have a chance to tie the game on its final possession. Rutgers punter Jeremy Ito only punted the ball 35-yards, which set the Bulls up on the RU 49-yard line. This came after a 5-yard delay of game penalty pushed the RU punt formation closer to the wrong endzone. The Scarlet Knights, however, avoided what could have turned to be a costly mistake.

The Rutgers defense was able to pick up their seventh and final sack of the game on first down with safety Joe Lefeged. Bulls quarterback Matt Grothe then threw two incomplete passes in a row, including a spike of the ball on 2nd and long.

The prior events setup a 4th and 22 and a controversial play. Grothe threw a pass towards the right sideline that was caught by USF wide receiver Aman Jackson; however, pass interference was called on Jackson and South Florida was backed up to its own 24.

Rutgers safety Zaire Kitchen would clinch the game with an interception on the last USF offensive play of the game.

"We did not protect very good," USF Head Coach Jim Leavitt said. "We have to get the ball off and Matt probably held onto the ball too much instead of getting rid of the ball. They were getting through there. We all saw the same thing. You have to be a little disappointed, possibly with the offensive line. There are a number of factors there."

The play of the game was the second of two touchdown receptions by Underwood, where he spun away from three defenders and ran 60-yards after the catch for a touchdown. The score came on the opening drive of the second half for Rutgers and gave the Scarlet Knights a 20-17 lead.

Rutgers wide receiver Tim Brown muffed two punts that resulted in South Florida recovering the fumble, on both occassions. South Florida picked up a touchdown on the first fumble recovery with a 28-yard touchdown reception by Jossie Hester Jr. The second turnover was given back to the Scarlet Knights when RU cornerback Devin McCourtey blocked a field goal attempt by the Bulls to give the ball back to Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights had two trick plays on special teams as well. Ito faked a punt and threw the ball to wide receiver James Townshed for 36-yards which put Rutgers in the red zone and set up Ito for a 26-yard field goal. The score was the first of the game and put RU up 3-0.

In the third quarter, holder Andrew DePaola took the snap from center on a field goal attempt, rolled out, avoided the oncoming USF rush, and hit wide receiver Kevin Brock for a 15-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown helped extend Rutgers' lead at the time to 27-17.

"Sometimes they (trick plays) do (work), sometimes they don't," Coach Schiano said. "I thought it was an extraordinary play by Andrew DePaola and by Kevin Brock. Kevin Brock really struggled to get out. They were grabbing him and he just fought through it and then made a tremendous catch."

Rutgers took a 30-20 lead on a 51-yard field goal by Ito. USF came back with an eight play, 70-yard drive that only took 2:37 and the Bulls pulled back within three with 9:16 to play in the game. It was the Scarlet Knights defense that buckled down in the final ten minutes to hold onto the 30-27 win.

"Everybody was out there making plays," Rutgers linebacker Brandon Renkart said. "There was not one guy off of his 1/11th. That allowed us to do what we did and make plays."

Rutgers will not have very long to dwell on this victory. The Knights will take a day to enjoy the win and start to think about top-10 West Virginia coming to town next weekend.

"We'll enjoy it tonight and get watching film on West Virginia tomorrow," Rice said. "We know they are a great team and as always you fear the letdown after a big game. I don't think this team will have that problem."

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