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Rutgers' Big East hopes fade as Pitt triumphs, 24-17
New Brunswick, NJ -
The Pitt Panthers overcame a good Rutgers defense behind
the running of Freshman Dion Lewis who ran for 180 yards including a 58-yard run
in the third period to place the Panthers (6-1, 3-0) atop the Big East ahead of
undefeated Cincinnati (6-0, 2-0) with a 24-17 win on the Banks of the Old
Raritan. Lewis' performance bested the Scarlet Knights rushing game,
180-38 yards. RU Freshman QB Tom Savage completed 23 of 39 for 248 yards
passing, but his tendency not to look off receivers make him an easy read
We missed Mohamed Sanu's 11-Yard TD run on Rutgers first play after recovering a fumble by Pitt's Dom DeCicco on a punt return from his own 11-yard line. Sanu led RU this evening in rushing with 29 yards on four carries, 11 on this one. Following Ray Graham's 54-yard return to the RU 40, Pitt came right back with a TD pass from Bill Stull (16 of 24, 153 yards) to Dorin Dickerson from the seven to knot things, 7-7. In the second period, Dom DeCicco made up somewhat for his fumble with an interception to start Pitt at Rutgers' 49. Dan Hutchins put up three points for a 45-yard FG as a result. Later in the stanza, Dion Lewis scored on a 1-yard run to finish a 68-yard, 8-play drive to give Pitt a 17-7 lead. On the ensuing RU drive, a 31-yard completion from Savage to Tim Brown got Rutgers to the Pitt 23. A couple of penalties against the Panthers brought RU even closer to a TD, but the Pitt defense turned a first and goal at the three to a fourth and goal at the six. San San Te's 23-yarder was good as as time expired at the half to narrow the score, 17-10.
GGA Scarpa and I came prepared for
the wet, cold weather predicted, but the rains held off and the temperature
stayed comfortable. At the half, we observed that Rutgers has too few
men's rooms to handle the traffic at intermission on the first level, and that
the lines form out into the concourse because guys tend to wait at the door
entrance for the next available latrine.
Halfway through the third period, Pitt started from it's own 23 following a Rutgers punt. After a four -yard run by Lewis and a facemask penalty against the Knights, Lewis burst though the line for a 58-yard jaunt and extended the Panther lead, 24-10. Rutgers tried to close the score on its next possession, but Te's 53-yard attempt went wide to the right. RU's defense later blocked a Pitt punt in the period, but could not capitalize with its unimaginative offense.
In the fourth, Rutgers' Damaso Munoz sacked Stull causing a fumble and Eric Legrand recovered at Pitt's 49. HC Greg Schiano mixed in running QB Jabu Lovelace with Savage, the better passer, to mix up plays a little more. Savage settled in a little and the result was a 19-yard TD pass to Tim Brown to put RU in striking distance with 9:39 left, 24-17. Pitt's Hutchins missed a 30-yard FG wide right on the Panthers' next possession to extend the lead, but they took 6:53 off the clock in the process. RU took over at its own 20, and moved the ball to its own 42, but with 1:11 Sanu fumbled after a four-yard reception and Pitt's Antwuan Reed recovered at RU's 47 from where they ran out the clock for its sixth victory of the season- tenth in the annals of Collegefootballfan.com history.
Rutgers visits Army at West Point on Friday night - a terrible place to attend a game on Friday nights for numerous reasons. We have no intention to ever go back to a night game at the Point. Pitt hosts South Florida (5-1, 1-1) in another key Big East game on Saturday. We headed to Penn State the next morning for the Minnesota game despite the weather conditions, and we will see PSU play again the following weekend when we venture out to see them play at Michigan, our first trip ever to that venue.
Extra Points: Rutgers' transit system for games seems to have things straightened out to get people back to the RAC after games with dedicated bus lanes, an improvement since the South Florida game two years ago where Frank Scarpa and I got off the bus with other fans and walked back to the RAC for half an hour as our bus remained stuck in post-game traffic. However, they don't have the same issue figured out for buses on the way to the game - one of several reasons for missing the opening kickoff.
While waiting for the bus to the game, Frank and I realized neither one of us had been to a basketball game at the RAC in a long time. We discussed getting there this year for one. The big question though - a men's or women's game?
Rutgers concessionaire Premio serves the best Italian sausage sandwich at any stadium we've ever been to. It's worth the $5 covered with peppers, onions and potatoes on a fresh sausage roll. In addition, their laminated paper-foil wrap came in handy to cover the wet bleacher seat we sat on since I didn't bring in anything to sit on. It did a decent job despite its limited size. It could have been worse had it not been for the foil seat it provided.
Our season seats at Rutgers Stadium are great in Row 42 in section 115 in the original end zone seating. It's a good view of the field to see the holes open up in the line and the pass patterns being run. We can see receivers and read defenses better than the QBs. Directly across from us is the big screen which is good and bad. The good is seeing all the replays very easily. The bad is that you can see every play live. It makes me feel like I should have stayed home to watch the game on TV instead of buying a ticket, and most of the games we'll attend will be televised. Best yet though is that we are in the top row in the end zone. The rail behind us is good for a backrest. It's also a quick hop over the rail to beat most other fans out to the shuttle bus line!
Rutgers ran a video short video on the board featuring its current alumni in the NFL. GGA Scarpa, a Rutgers fan and grad, turned and said, "How long is that video at Penn State? Half an hour?"
RU lists co-offensive coordinators in its game program - Kyle Flood, also offensive line coach, and Kirk Ciarrocca, QB coach. Both are experienced coaching at Delaware, Ciarrocca attended and played at Juniata, the Alma Mater, before suffering a career-ending injury. Maybe Schiano needs to make a choice and get this assignment down to one or the other, because two heads in this case don't seem to be working better than one. Also, Ciarrocca needs to explain to Savage that he needs to look off his intended target. The freshman only looks at one receiver. He still threw for 248 yard against Pitt. but the potential for more is there is he improves his vision looking for multiple receivers.
GGA Scarpa and I have had this conversation several times, but Schiano does not impress us a a good game coach. With a weak, non-conference schedule, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he's a good recruiter, but his game plans and decision-making capabilities seem lacking on game day. We thought things were on the way up when we attended that Louisville game in 2006, but nothing's gotten better since. We saw his special teams run all the way to the end line on kickoffs into the end zone. The "keep-chopping" mantra has been long forgotten hype. It looks like this will be the ninth year in a row that Schiano comes up short for a Big East tile. Whoever thinks Penn State will hire him after JoePa's gone is crazy. He's done well to get Rutgers to this level, but it seems he can bring it no further. With high expectations for this year with the strongest O-line in the Big East and two losses in conference play already, we don't see much hope with home games left against South Florida and West Virginia. We think that even road games at UConn and Syracuse cannot be considered "gimmes". If RU takes Army lightly this Friday night, they could be walking into the biggest trap on the Hudson since Washington ordered his army to forge a chain across the river at West Point to turn back the British warships. If this season falls apart, we have an idea who may be the next "Jersey guy" to be available after this job. Stay tuned at the end of the season. By the way, we plan to attend the International Bowl in Toronto on Jan. 2. For excitement ( against potential MAC champ Central Michigan), we hope we'll see some Big East rep other than Rutgers there.