Rutgers Defeats Pittsburgh 20-16

For the second week in a row, Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel had to leave the game early due to an aggravated right thumb injury. Backup Jabu Lovelace had to take over for Teel. Teel's last throw before being taken out was at the 14-minute mark of the second quarter when he was picked off by Pitt's defensive star of the game, Scott McKillop.

The Scarlet Knights offense struggled with Lovelace behind center. Lovelace was sacked three times and only completed two passes.

However, Teel would reenter the game with 14 minutes to go in the fourth quarter and lead Rutgers to a field goal that put Rutgers (7-4, 3-3) ahead of Pittsburgh (4-6, 2-3) by the final score 20-16.

"We were all a little bit concerned," Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano said in regards to his RS Jr. QB. "He could throw but he didn't feel good about it. He said coach I don't want to risk it. We talked at the beginning of the third quarter and he warmed up and looked okay."

"I told him to stay warm and stay ready and we'll run the football and see what happens. As the game got tight I said, can you do it and he said yes, so we gave it a try."

Pittsburgh did have a chance to win the game on its final drive. With less than 30 seconds left in the game, the Panthers looked to score what would have been the game-winning touchdown, but Pitt wide receiver Oderick Turner was called for offensive pass interference instead.

On the ensuing play, RU cornerback Devin McCourty intercepted Pitt quarterback Pat Bostick in the endzone off a tip by fellow backfield mate Joe Lefeged.

. "On that last play we just fought for the ball, McCourty said. "I felt we did a great job just going up and playing the ball. It was a great ending for our seniors, especially after how tense it was when we thought Pittsburgh got the winning touchdown. After the penalty, we buckled down and made the play we needed."

Pittsburgh Head Coach Dave Wannstedt would not pass judgment on the disputed offensive pass interference call and rather focused on what his team could have done better.

"I'll tell you what I told the team," Coach Wannstedt said. "Number one, we had opportunities. I didn't see the last play so I'll wait and hold judgments until I watch the tape, but it shouldn't have come down to one play."

Rutgers turnovers kept Pittsburgh in the game. The Panthers scored 10 points on their second and third possessions of the game off of an interception and a fumble respectively. Pitt gained only 19 yards combined on the two scoring drives.

McKillop's sack of Lovelace forced a fumble and McKillop recovered that fumble to help set up the Panther lone touchdown. He also recovered another fumble by Lovelace early in the fourth quarter, which setup another field goal for Pittsburgh and cut the Rutgers lead to 17-16.

"I thought overall we forced turnovers, we pressured the passer, and we played good enough on defense to win the game," Coach Wannstedt said.

Pittsburgh made a quarterback change as well after halftime. Kevan Smith came in for Pat Bostick who started the game behind center. Bostick, like Teel would reenter the game in the fourth quarter but was unable to lead Pittsburgh to a win on the final drive of the game.

Smith was able to lead one long scoring drive that went 69 yards but fizzled out inside the RU 10-yard line – the drive instead resulted in a Panther field goal and cut Rutgers lead to 17-13.

"Today was the best defensive performance I have ever been associated with," RU defensive tackle Eric Foster said. "Everyone was playing for each other. It was a gutsy performance."

With the win, Rutgers almost guarantees that it will be playing in a bowl game. The Knights will go on the road to Louisville on Nov. 29 for its final game of the regular season and if RU can win, it will maintain an outside chance to play in the Sun Bowl. However, the Scarlet Knight players are much more concerned that they got the seniors a win in their final game at Rutgers Stadium.

"Today's game will be a memory I will have forever," Foster said. "Chills ran through my body. I had such a fun time today and getting the win was the perfect ending. This all meant so much to the seniors."

- RU safety Zaire Kitchen left the game early with an apparent right knee injury. Coach Schiano said he would reserve judgment on the extent of the injury, but he did state that it did not look good.

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