The No.15 ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights scored on all phases of the game- offense, defense and special teams en route to a 24-13 victory over Connecticut Sunday night at Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway, NJ to continue their best start in 30 years and take over sole possession of first place in the BIG EAST. The Scarlet Knights improve to 8-0 overall and 3-0 in the BIG EAST, while the Huskies drop to 3-5 overall and 0-3 in the league.
Heisman Trophy candidate Ray Rice scored after a 5-yard run, drawing first blood for Rutgers after a seven-play 59-yard opening drive. The touchdown was Rice’s 13th touchdown of 2006. Quarterback Mike Teel completed passes of 23 and 22 yards to wide receiver James Townsend and All-Big East fullback Brian Leonard respectively, to highlight the drive. Leonard’s reception made him Rutgers’ all-time reception leader with 195 for his career.
The Scarlet Knights' defensive unit put up the next score as a rush by Jamaal Westerman forced Huskies quarterback D.J. Hernandez to lose the ball. Manny Collins scooped up the loose ball, scampering 11 yards for the first touchdown of his career as Rutgers surged to a 14-0 advantage with 13:19 showing in the second quarter.
Kicker Jeremy Ito drilled a 51-yard field goal through the uprights to push Rutgers ahead, 17-0. The strike was the 46th of Ito's career.
The shutout was broken on the second play of the second half when Connecticut freshman running back Donald Brown rumbled 65 yards for the Huskies' first score.
The Huskies went back to work, completing an eight-play 42-yard drive prior to the close of the third quarter. Brown found the endzone for the second time with 13 seconds remaining in the third to pull the visitors to 17-13.
The Rutgers special teams completed the cycle and put some distance on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Westerman blocked Chris Pavasaris' punt at the Huskies 20-yard line and linebacker Quintero Frierson did the rest, recovering the ball in the endzone to give RU its second special teams TD of the season.
Freshman defensive back Devin McCourty halted any Connecticut rally, recording his second career interception at the 2:40 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Rutgers defensive unit finished with six sacks on the night, highlighted by Westerman's 2.5. Sophomore DB Courtney Greene led the unit with a game-high 11 tackles in the contest.
The Scarlet Knights, favored by a –19-point chalk, failed to cover against the spread for only the second time in 2006. The under backers cashed on the total of 39 with only 37 points put on the board.