The RU defense – highlighted by the play of seniors Ryan D'Imperio and George Johnson – wreaked havoc all day for Mario Cristobal's offense and led the Scarlet Knights to a 23-15 win at Rutgers Stadium.
"That was the best game that the defense has come out and played," said senior cornerback Devin McCourty, who had eight tackles. "At the end of the game, we let them back in and we have to work on that. Two quick scores can really turn a game around. Our overall effort and performance is the best so far this season."
D'Imperio, who made eight tackles, intercepted his second career pass late in the game to put Rutgers ahead 23-0 and his touchdown at the end of the play proved to be the difference-maker as FIU put together a strong final quarter. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton was responsible for all 14 points for FIU, pulling in two touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
"He's a great player," McCourty said of Hilton. "He just made plays all day and as a defense we made sure we surrounded him."
Johnson led the Scarlet Knights with 10 tackles on the day, but Jonathan Freeny remains the team's sack leader after another two against FIU.
"It was a good effort, but it wasn't a complete effort because we could have actually finished the effort," Johnson said. "In the third and fourth quarter they started gaining momentum and they started to come back on us so we didn't do a complete effort on defense."
Tom Savage had a very rough day. The phrase "freshman mistakes" doesn't even begin to sum up his day. Between getting sacked four times, errant passes and drops, he was just simply disappointing with his 11-for-28 performance.
To make matters worse, Savage took a shot to the head on a scramble at the start of the fourth quarter and had to leave the game with an injury.
"I think he's going to be OK," said Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. "Right now it's a little foggy. That's why he didn't go back into the game."
Senior quarterback Dom Natale stepped in for Savage and complete one of his two pass attempts, a 49-yard bomb to Tim "Duce" Brown.
"It's been a role I've spent four-and-a-half years in so it's nothing new," Natale said. "It felt good to contribute and be out there and be ready."
Savage did not speak with the media after the game, but Natale, who had spoken to the true freshman seconds before meeting with the media, said he would be fine.
"He's going to learn," Natale said. He did a good job of handling stuff. He's a competitive guy so you can see him get frustrated. … He'll be fine."
There were two bright spots for Rutgers on offense. One was kicker San San Te who booted three field goals, but the other was Joe Martinek who put together a quiet 121-yard day, a new career high.
-Desmond Wynn starter at right guard for the first time, moving Art Forst to left guard and Howard Barbieri out of the starting line.
-Sophomore David Rowe made his first career start at cornerback and had three tackles.
-Brown's 131 yards receiving mark the sixth time that he's exceeded the century mark in his career.
Rutgers defeats FIU
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