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Rutgers runs past Navy, 41-24
The Birthplace of College Football - Heisman candidate Ray Rice of #16 Rutgers (2-0) ran for 175 yards and 3 scores and QB Mike Teel passed well enough (14 of 19, 266 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) taking a lead after two early touchdowns to keep Navy (1-1) at bay, 41-24. Rutgers' defense intercepted two errant Kaipo-Noa Keheaku-Enhada passes in the end zone to kill Navy scoring opportunities. Both teams made critical errors during the game which influenced the final outcome. The Navy QB threw 3 INTs and Rutgers specialty teams were assessed penalties which kept Navy drives alive. On the first possession for RU, Junior RB Ray Rice set the all time Rutgers rushing record eclipsing the mark Terrell Will held at 3,114 since 1995. For Collegefootballfan.com, it was the fourth time that we've seen these two teams play, and though the play tonight wasn't as sharp as it could be, both programs are ions better than in the previous encounters we've seen between them.
Rutgers forced Navy to punt from its own 14 and took over at the Navy 40. Three plays later, Teel hit TE Shamar Graves over the middle for a 12-yard TD pass in the end zone for the game's first score and the Jeremy Ito kick made it 7-0. A mental mistake by returner Reggie Campbell on the ensuing kickoff started Navy at their own eight. Campbell caught the ball at the eight near the sideline and stepped out of bounds instead of letting the ball go out to make RU re-kick from their own 25. Navy seemed to have an advantage on kick returns most of the evening. Navy set up on 4th and four to punt from the 14, but an off-sides by RU gave the Mids a first down. Campbell's mistake was still not voided. On third and nine, DE George Johnson picked off Keheaku-Enhada's slant pass at the Navy 25 to gain possession. Rice took it in from the four for a 14-0 Rutgers lead. Navy got its act together on the next kick return getting the ball out to the 43. FB Eric Kettani was a force up the middle on consecutive carries getting Navy to the five-yard line with a 10-yard run on a fourth and two. Keheaku-Enhada hit Reggie Campbell on a quick out for a 3-yard TD pass, and the score stood that way at the end of the period. Guest Game Analyst Eric Koreivo pointed out that Navy starting LB Clint Sovie, one of only two returning Navy defensive starters, was on crutches with an ice pack on his ankle on the way to the locker room. Sovie was out for the rest of the game. Eric also wondered why the Navy contingent including the Drum Corps wasn't doing push-ups after the score.
Rutgers scored on its next drive with a 28-yard FG by Jeremy Ito. Navy started its next drive from the 32 and got pushed back two yards before lining up in punt formation. A 15-yard penalty for roughing the kicker gave Navy new life and they took advantage driving down to RU's five. Keheaku-Enhada, who doesn't get much zip on the ball, attempted a pass over the middle in the end zone only to be picked off by DB Ron Girault, thwarting a much-needed Navy score. It was Rutgers' turn to take advantage. From the 20, they drove the length of the field for a score when Teel hit Rice on a delay pattern over the middle for a 22-yard scoring play with :34 left in the half. Right before that play, a Navy blitz seemed to cause a fumble by QB Mike Teel and Navy recovered. It didn't look like a forward pass from our vantage point in section 101 at the opposite end of the field, but no replay was called and Navy HC Paul Johnson didn't seem to protest, but it would have been a big break for Navy.
Rutgers University learned much from last year's chaos at the sold-out Thursday night game against Louisville. Parking and traffic patterns seemed much more organized. We parked at the RAC which we couldn't do last year, and traffic seemed to flow smoothly before and after the game. You always hear about the girls of the SEC and the Texas and USC and the like, but let me tell you, Rutgers girls, especially their dance team, is as good as any of them! Those dance lessons taking place at such young ages in the Garden State are paying off. I have to rate them tied for first with the North Texas Dance Team we saw last year. Speaking of sideline entertainment, we noted the Rutgers players not suited up for the game all standing around on the sideline together wearing game jerseys, matching red shorts, black socks and black sneakers. Sorry guys! Even though the school was surely given some kind of uniform deal. you look like you should all be shaking pom-poms as well! Drop that idea! Best sign of the night: "Heisman Dinner Serving Rice".
Navy did what they do best on their next drive - run the option. With Keheaku-Enhada's arm, they should find a way to run some deception with a HB option pass or two. There were a couple of times when a reverse would have caught RU's defense completely off-guard. A facemask penalty on the kick got Navy started from the 43, and the option got Navy to the two where Keheaku-Enhada faked the dive to the FB and plunged over himself to cut RU's lead to 24-14. RU started the next series from the sixteen, and a tipped pass was intercepted by CB Ketric Buffin to put the Mids at the RU 34. At the twenty-two, Johnson called a time-out. Why he called a pass play when Navy seemed to have the momentum with the run made no sense, but a lame-duck pass by Keheaku-Enhada floated into the end zone only to be picked off by DB Courtney Greene. It was a big turnaround in the game as RU responded driving the length of the field for a 20-yard Jeremy Ito FG to stretch the lead 27-14.
Navy was driving to start Q4 and came away with Joey Bullen's FG to cut Rutgers lead back to ten points. The next Scarlet Knight drive started from the 30. On the first play, RU got a small scare as Rice seemed to hurt his knee, but ran off the field to be replaced by Kordell Young. From the 47, Teel threw a beautiful bomb to Kenny Britt who burned the Navy CB for a 53-yard scoring play virtually putting the game away at 34-17. Navy went three and out and RU took over at midfield. On a fourth and one at the two, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano decided to forgo the FG and rubbed Navy the wrong way giving Rice the ball for his final two-yard TD scamper. At 41-17, most people had left, but Navy's offense, led by second team QB Jarrod Bryant, came out with fresh legs to regain some respectability when the QB drove his team to the four where he took it in with 52 seconds remaining. #16 Rutgers prevailed 41-24 in the end, but the balance of the season looks bright for both teams.
Rutgers returns home again next week to host Championship Division Norfolk State in their homecoming game. Why bother? RU should be playing at least a better subdivision team, but AD Robert Mulcahy remembers past history against Villanova and New Hampshire. We'll see RU again against a tough opponent when South Florida visits on October 18. Navy plays it first home game next week against Ball State. It looks like the Mids have the means this year to compete with the balance of their schedule including Pitt, Wake Forest, and Notre Dame. We'll see the WFU game, and there is a possibility of sneaking in the game at Pitt. Now we're on our way to State College to see PSU host Notre Dame. Check in with us tomorrow!