Scarlet Knights Become Bowl Eligible

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers had fallen off the map, had been forgotten by many, had been defeated early and often for the first six games. Now winning has been the only assignment on the Scarlet Knights' schedule. From registering a 1-5 record to officially becoming bowl eligible five games later at 6-5, one can only describe the Scarlet Knights' turnaround as amazing.

"I'm really proud of these kids," head coach Greg Schiano said, after Rutgers defeated Army 30-3, before an audience of 42,212. "They learned some good lessons, sticking together and fighting."

That mantra on which Schiano prides himself and his team, one-game seasons, has earned both of them a meaningful season finale, at home, on Dec. 4, against free-falling Louisville (5-6, 1-5 BIG EAST), which lost to West Virginia 35-21 and has not won since Oct. 25.

"We're certainly not old hat at this stuff," Schiano said. So I am not going to sit here and say it is not important. It is. But that's not how we got this thing turned around, we got it turned around by just worrying about the one week we can focus on. We can enjoy tonight but tomorrow it's on to a new one game season."

Meanwhile, Mike Teel delivered 23-33 for 359 yards, one touchdown and, most importantly, zero interceptions. He also established two individual achievements in the process: the school's all-time passing leader with 8,617 yards and total offense with 8,405.

"Not too many…obviously it's a great accomplishment, something I'm extremely proud of, but a lot of it doesn't all go to me," Teel said, humbly. "The line has to go out, the receivers have to catch; it takes more than one person to do it."

Schiano admired Teel, the veteran Oakland, N.J. native, who has directed Rutgers to five straight wins this season, a 4-2 conference record and three straight bowl games in his career.

"Mike's an individual version of what we have been able to do as a team," Schiano said of Teel. "He was certainly under fire, everybody calling for his replacement. I am sure it's not easy for anybody, especially when it's your home state, and your family has to go through it, and you have to go through it, but I am really proud of the way he stuck to it."

It is also appropriate that Teel found teammate and close friend Tiquan Underwood on his record-setting completion.

"He deserves that, all the work he puts in, everything he's been through… through the highs and the lows," said Underwood of his veteran signal caller. "It's just a great record to have."

The Scarlet Knights stormed out to a 23-0 halftime lead as they contained Army's triple-option formation, and the Black Knights, who lead the nation in fumbles lost with 23, coughed up two more on Saturday.

Zaire Kitchen stripped Army quarterback Chip Bowden on the fourth play of the game and Joe Lefeged carried it 58 yards the other way for his first career touchdown. Later, Lefeged added another key fumble recovery late in the second quarter and finished with eight tackles.

Meanwhile, Rutgers offense constantly marched down the field in the first 30 minutes, including Teel's 50th career touchdown at 11:14 of the second quarter, which leaves him two away from tying Ryan Hart's TD record.

But penalties inside the red zone cost him two touchdown passes, one to Kenny Britt, who still finished with a career-best 197 yards on 10 receptions.

"It's kind of disappointing, because we did leave so much," Teel said. "Two touchdowns called back and a bunch of trips to the red zone where we kicked field goals…we need to clean that up because obviously it'll hurt you."

San San Te added three field goals from 32, 39 and 27, but the swirling winds steered his first attempt left of the goal post.

Although the Scarlet Knights settled early on, they managed a season-high 521 total yards of offense, Teel played exceptionally and a fourth bowl invitation is 60 minutes away from being a reality.

"We will enjoy our win today, but then will get ready for Louisville," Teel said. "They are our next matchup in our one-game season, and that's who we will focus on. As for becoming bowl eligible, that is great, but we are not thinking about that right now."

Notes: Punter/holder Teddy Dellaganna landed two kickoffs out of bounds…Andrew DePaola started for the first time as long snapper…Tim Brown scored on a 19-yard end around in the third quarter...all four tailbacks played…Schiano rested his starters in the fourth quarter.

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