"Vintage Rutgers" is how it started out.
In a hugely important game, the Knights turned over the ball on a fumble in their very first possession. The Orangemen were set up for an easy score.
But Rutgers held.
Forced to go for the field goal in a fourth down and goal situation the Orangemen found their field goal attempt blocked. Brandon Haw picked up the loose ball and took it 99 yards for a Rutgers TD.
The Knights took a early lead 7-0.
After an exchange of series the Orangemen came back. Syracuse took the ball on a 10 play 59 yard drive which ended in a five yard Nunes to Rhodes pass for a touchdown.
With the Knights starting to move on the following drive it was "vintage Rutgers", again. The Knights again fumbled and turned over the ball to Syracuse on the Rutgers 28. Ryan Cubit, who had Shawn Tucker open for a touchdown on that play, went out injured on the play. Two plays later it was Syracuse 14- Rutgers 7 on a thirty yard pass by Nunes to Jamal Riddle. Big Dog emailed me from the Carrier Dome on that one. " We got robbed again. Riddle did not have control of the ball in bounds!!!"
After a Rutgers drive ended up in a missed field goal, Syracuse Walter Reyes broke a running play for a 79 yards touchdown to put the Orangemen up 21-7.
That is the way it was at halftime. Overall, the Knights consistently were moving the ball but were unable to capitalize once they got deep in Syracuse territory. Rutgers was also shooting itself in the foot with turnovers to the Orangemen.
Rutgers held the Orange to three and out on the opening series of the second half and when the Knights got the ball ball on offense, once again they started to move the ball. Again, Rutgers fumbled the opportunity away after Josh Hobbs fumbled away a major pass play gain to turn the ball over to the Orangemen.
The Orangemen couldn't move the ball and RU again got the ball back and again fumbled it away, this time on the RU 24. Finally, the Orangemen took advantage when a field goal put them up 24-7.
Nate Jones answered. For the second time this year Jones took a kickoff to the house. This time for 101 yards. Closing the margin to 24-14.
Syracuse wasn't done scoring though. As the fourth quarter opened the Orangemen blocked a Mike Barr punt and took it in for a touchdown to extend their lead to 31-14. Shortly thereafter Latroy Oliver picked off a Ted Trump pass and took it back to the Rutgers two yard line. Walter Reyes took the ball in for a score on the next play upping the score to 38-14, Syracuse.
What had started out as a game with great hopes for the Knights had turned into a disaster and the disaster wasn't over.
Syracuse scored with a little over four minutes to play after a 5 play, 55 yard drive.
The final score Syracuse 45, Rutgers 14.
"Vintage Rutgers" is how it began. "Vintage Rutgers" is how it ended.
Mike Fasano: MikeFasano@comcast.net
Mike and the Big Dog's LLC