PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Redshirt freshman Jawan Jamison rushed for a career-high 200 yards and two touchdowns and surprising Rutgers moved into a share of first place in the Big East Conference with a 20-3 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday.
Picked to finish last in the conference's preseason poll, Rutgers (8-3, 4-2) limited Cincinnati to a season-low 225 total yards while holding sophomore Munchie Legaux to 158 yards passing in his first start for the injured Zach Collaros.
Jamison carried 34 times and scored on runs of 12 and 1 yard as the Scarlet Knights handed the Bearcats (7-3, 3-2) their second straight loss and snapped a five-game losing streak against them. It also avenged a 69-38 loss last season, a game in which Cincinnati had 661 yards in total offense.
The victory moved Rutgers into a tie for first place in the league with Louisville (6-5, 4-2), which beat Connecticut Saturday. Cincinnati, West Virginia and Pittsburgh are a half game back.
The Scarlet Knights, who finish their regular season at Connecticut next weekend, need to have idle West Virginia lose one of their last two league games to have any chance at winning the league crown and getting the BCS bid for the league.
Playing the conference's best offense and the nation's second-best run defense, Rutgers dominated in both areas.
The Scarlet Knights gained 385 yards, including 212 on the ground against a team that was giving up an average of 81.4 yards. The attack also showed in time of possession with Rutgers finishing with 38:14.
Jamison gave the Scarlet Knights the lead, scoring on his12-yard run two plays after Brandon Jones sacked Legaux (12 of 31 with one interception) and forced a fumble that Justin Francis recovered.
Tony Miliano cut the deficit to 7-3 with a 47-yard field goal after Cincinnati could generate only 18 yards in eight plays after getting the ball at the Rutgers 48 following a short punt.
Rutgers pushed the lead back to seven points when San San Te capped a 23-play, 82-yard second-quarter march that consumed close to 10 minutes. Chas Dodd (19 of 33 for 173 yards) converted three third-down passes on the drive and Jamison converted two other third downs with short runs.
After getting a first and goal at the Bearcats 1, Cincinnati brought down fullback Michael Burton for a 4-yard loss and Rutgers had to settle for three points.
Jamison pushed the lead to 17-3 midway through the third quarter capping an 11-play, 94 yard drive on which he has runs of 22 and 29 yards with his short TD run.
Te added a 43 yard field goal in the fourth quarter that was set up by a 35-yard run by Jamison.
The game was Rutgers' final home contest this season and the seniors were introduced before the game. The loudest cheer was reserved for Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed last October making a tackle in a game against Army at the Meadowlands.
Rutgers (8-3, 4-2 BIG EAST) snapped a five-game losing streak to Cincinnati (7-3, 3-2 BIG EAST) with a convincing 20-3 victory over the Bearcats Saturday afternoon at High Point Solutions Stadium. With the victory, Rutgers is now in a tie for first place in the BIG EAST with one game to play.
With a victory next Saturday at Connecticut (12 noon, ESPN2), Rutgers will earn a share of its first BIG EAST Championship.
Game captains for the Scarlet Knights were junior WR Mohamed Sanu (South Brunswick, N.J.), junior TE D.C. Jefferson (Winter Haven, Fla.), junior LB Khaseem Greene (Elizabeth, N.J.) and junior LB Steve Beauharnais (Saddle Brook, N.J.).
The all-time series vs. Cincinnati is now tied at 8-8-1. The Scarlet Knights are 7-2 all-time vs. the Bearcats in Piscataway.
Rutgers has won eight games in a season for the fifth time in six seasons. With a win at UConn, Rutgers will post its sixth nine-win regular season in school history.
Rutgers held Cincinnati to 225 yards of total offense – its lowest output of the season – and its lowest mark since 146 vs. the Scarlet Knights in 2005.
The Scarlet Knights are 39-4 (.907) under head coach Greg Schiano when holding an opponent under 300 yards of total offense.
The Scarlet Knights rushed for a season-high 212 yards, the most vs. a BIG EAST opponent since 239 yards rushing at Louisville in 2009.
Rutgers yielded 228 fewer yards on the ground and 436 fewer yards of total offense vs. Cincinnati in comparison to last season’s 69-38 loss to the Bearcats.
Rutgers scored on a 94-yard touchdown drive vs. Cincinnati, its longest drive of the season yardage wise. The last time RU had a 90-plus yard touchdown drive was October 16, 2010 vs. Army (8 plays, 93 yards, 4:02).
The Scarlet Knights scored a field goal on a 9-minute, 37-second drive vs. the Bearcats. The last drive for RU over nine minutes was at Louisville in 2009 (16 plays, 87 yards, 9:08 time of possession).
Rutgers used 23 plays on its second-quarter scoring drive, the first 20-plus play drive since a 20-play drive vs. the Bearcats in 2009. In the 2009 matchup, the Scarlet Knights used 20 plays to cover 78 yards for a touchdown vs. the Bearcats.
The Scarlet Knights are 39-13 under Greg Schiano when rushing for 150 yards or more in a game. Since 2006, RU is 28-7 when rushing for 150 yards or more in a game.
Redshirt freshman running back Jawan Jamison (Starke, Fla.) became the third freshman running back in school history to rush for 200 yards in a game with his 200-yard performance vs. the Bearcats. Jamison carried 34 times for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
The 200 yards rushing were the most by a freshman running back in school history at home.
Rutgers Freshman Running Back Top Performances
- Terrell Willis at Army (10-16-93) 37 carries, 221 yards, 4 TDs
- Ray Rice at UConn (10-22-05) 27 carries, 217 yards, 0 TDs
- Jawan Jamison (11-19-11) 34 carries, 200 yards, 2 TDs
Jamison established career-highs in rushing attempts (34), rushing yards (200) and equaled a career-best with two rushing scores.
Senior PK San San Te (Conover, N.C.) was 2-for-2 on field goals to become the fourth player in BIG EAST history with 60 or more career field goals. Te has 61 career field goals, fourth in BIG EAST history.
Junior WR Mohamed Sanu (South Brunswick, N.J.) finished with six receptions for 38 yards. Sanu now has 100 receptions on the season, third in the NCAA.
Junior CB Brandon Jones (Sicklerville, N.J.) finished with his first sack and forced fumble of his career after his first quarter play on Cincinnati QB Munchie Legaux. The sack/fumble led to Rutgers’ first touchdown of the game.
Head Coach Greg Schiano
Opening Statement: “Today was a really good team effort by the players, coaches staying in the moment six seconds at a time. I am really excited for the guys down in the locker room and the coaches. They have worked very hard and now we have one more week. I know they are all focused. We are going to enjoy this a little bit, but our focus is already turned to Connecticut and the final week of the season.”
On the defensive effort: “I thought the players did an incredible job and the assistant coaches – Bob Fraser and all the guys. They put together a great plan and the kids executed it. It is so hard to get 11 guys to do what they are supposed to do. I think the resolve amongst our players today was excellent – the focus. Little things can get you off if you are not careful, but they were locked and did all the little things today. I am very proud of them – the coaches and the players.”
On the long drive in the first half: “I don’t think with this football team that one drive or one series is going to be the turning point. This is a tough football team that has been down two scores, three scores and came back. But I do agree with you, that was an important drive. I thought today, the way we ran the football, that’s who we want to be. We have been there before. I though Coach Cignetti and the offensive staff put together a great plan to be able run it when we want to run it and throw it when we want to throw it. The players executed. Jawan Jamison ran the ball really well. He looked fresh, he made people miss and he kept things moving forward. I thought he was excellent. It is critical to be able to run the ball if you are going to be a northeastern football team that is going to be consistently successful.”
On having zero turnovers: “That’s critical. I know guys want to see balls flying down the field, but if it is not there, don’t do it. Punting is okay. We will line up and play defense. That is okay. I was proud. We didn’t lose the game and that gave us a chance to win the game.”
On containing Pead: “The players executed the plan. I thought Coach Fraser and the staff put together an excellent plan and the players executed it the way they are supposed to. That takes a lot of focus. I am very happy for them.”
On winning time of possession: “That’s critical. When you are playing against a no-huddle spread, if you are able to three-and-out them and get the ball back and have sustained drives, they don’t get their chances. It is all part of the plan. It was all part of how Rutgers is going to be. We are slowly inching back there. Like I told you, we are not going to get away from it overnight and we are not going to get it back overnight. It was fun to watch our team run the ball – that was good stuff.”
On last year’s lost to Cincinnati forcing changes: “It was one of the games that led us to make some changes, you are right on that. I am glad we did it. Again, I don’t want to minimize last year, but there were a lot of things that went into last year. I’ll say it, after six games we were 12th in the country in scoring defense last year – half the season. The wheels came off for a lot of reasons. It wasn’t just speed, but these guys are back to playing physical, aggressive and today very focused defense. That is what makes me happy because if they can focus they can be pretty good.”
On what is means to play for the BIG EAST title: “It means a lot. Yeah, it means a lot. It is what every competitor is in it for. You want to do things right. I remember when Bob Mulcahy hired me we talked about it. We want to get there, but we want to do it right. When Tim [Pernetti] took over we had the same conversation. We are going to get there, but we are going to do it right. We are not going to sacrifice what we believe in to get there. We are not there yet, but we are going to have a chance next week.”
On the defense against a young quarterback: “To be frank, we ran our stuff. Maybe we called a few more things with a young, inexperienced quarterback that could give him some things to look at. Whereas Zach [Collaros] is a more experience guy that would have probably recognized something sooner, but you can see how good an athlete Munchie [Legaux] is. When he tucked that ball and ran off, that was downright scary. A couple times I said, ‘I think he is going all the way’ before our guy made a nice angle tackle or something. He is really talented. When he feels comfortable, he can really zip it. I mean he hit that dig route – that thing was no higher than my head for about 30 yards. He is a talented guy – I thought our guys really showed up and played well and made it difficult for him.”
On playing a complete game: “It has been awhile. They are fun ones when you win the game the way you set out to win it. That is, as a coach, satisfying. Ball control, toughness, play good defense. We have been spectacular in special teams, but I would say I wouldn’t say that we were spectacular, but we did our job. That is how a team works, three phases working together.”
On the play of the offensive line: “Just as when things don’t go well, that when they do go well I can’t tell you [how they played] because I can’t watch that group. But I know one thing, when your running back rushes to 200 yards, somebody did something and someone blocked somebody. It is never as good as you think it is when you win and it is never as bad as you think it is when you lose. The fact that [Jawan] Jamison rushed to 200 yards, I’m sure the offensive line made some blocks.”
Head Coach Butch Jones
Opening Statement: “Obviously, we’re very, very disappointed. We pride ourselves on being able to stop the run on defense and we weren’t able to do that today. We gave up 200 yards to the back, (Jawan) Jamison, who I thought ran extremely hard. Rutgers controlled the line offensively and defensively. Offensively, I thought we could never establish a rhythm. There were no big plays, too many dropped passes. We weren’t very efficient in the run game. By far, it was not our best performance. We need to get off the field on third downs and we weren’t able to do that. On one drive, we allowed them to convert three third downs and three of them were third-and-long situations, which obviously we can’t do. Offensively, possessing the ball and first-down efficiency and we could never get going. But, it’s like I told our players, we still have a couple games left and you find out when you’re challenged (who you are). We have to stay together and we will. It’s the same team that was 7-1 that is 7-3 now. We have two games to go and we have a great challenge, obviously, going to Syracuse. It was a very disappointing day. We need to learn from it and get better in a hurry.”
On Munchie Legaux’s fumble taking him out of rhythm: “It was a combination of a gamut of things, really. You have to take care of the football. That is embedded in our gospel of winning and we didn’t give ourselves a chance. We gave them seven points and they did a great job of capitalizing on the turnover, but we can’t turn the ball over. We put our defense in that adverse situation.”
On Legaux’s rhythm: “It goes back to our snapping player. Obviously, it’s very challenging, but you have to be able to overcome that. We didn’t execute at all.”
On missing Zach Collaros: “We knew coming in here that their philosophy on defense is that they’re going to move the front, bring fire zones and play man coverage. It’s nothing that we weren’t prepared for, we just didn’t execute it. Hats off to them. There is a reason that they’re No. 1 in our conference in total defense and taking the ball away. They’re a very talented defense and Greg (Schiano) does a great job with them. We knew it was going to be a great challenge coming in here. When you’re breaking in a new quarterback in this time of environment, situation, that doesn’t help matters.”
On not executing offense: “Munchie was very calm. I have to go back and look at the film, but we didn’t execute our offense with any precision at all. From tempo, to we had too many drive killers and momentum stallers and dropped passes. There were missed opportunities and the biggest thing was (not coverting) first downs. We were always behind the sticks the entire game. That is very difficult to overcome when your offense is always behind the chains. We had zero explosive plays. We’re an offense that we need to have big plays.”
On Rutgers offense: “They were on the field a lot. We always say a mark of great defenses is not putting your defense in a negative situation. Our defense was on the field way too much. I thought they controlled the field. They had 38 minutes of time of possession. Again, on defense, when we get them in third-and-long situations, we have to get off the field and we weren’t able to do that on a number of touchdown-scoring drives.”
#37 Senior JK Schaffer, MLB
On Cincinnati’s Rush Defense: “Rutgers had a good attack plan. They came out and really hit us in the mouth on defense. They were running powers. We misread a couple of times, just small mistakes and they busted out for a couple of big runs and that was really the tale of the tape on defense. Getting off the field on third down, we really need to do a better job of that and that’s just players making plays. We had a couple of missed opportunities, but hats off to Rutgers. They really came out and played hard. They had a good plan of attack.”
On the Two Long Rutgers Drives: “(The long drives) hurt you, but it’s our fault for not getting off the field. The guys on the field need to come up with a play here or there to get you off the field.”
On the Offense Not Performing and Leading to Defense Staying on the Field Longer: “I don’t mind (being on the field). I love being on the field. I want to play as many plays as I possibly can. I’m always happy with our offense; they know what they’re doing. That’s not my specialty. They know what they’re doing, I can’t say much for them. They know what happened. I don’t know what happened to them. I just know what happened to the defense, and we just have to come out and play better.”
On Jamison: “(Jawan Jamison) was really tough. He really surprised me. He was a lot better in person than I thought on film. I hit him hard a couple of times and he still broke away from a couple of tackles and he had really good balance. I think he is a real good back. He’s tough.”
#72 Evan Davis , OL
On the Offensive Rhythm: “It was tough getting into a rhythm. Rutgers has a great defense, they had well ran blitzes and their defense did a heck of a job.”
On RU Being Tough against the Run: “A lot of blitzing, their defense was assignment sound. We just couldn’t get the ball rolling. Like I said before a credit to their defense, they did a heck of a job.”
On Munchie Getting Frustrated: “Today I thought Munchie did a great job. He kept his composure. He was very positive on the sidelines, to the offensive line, to the wide receivers, just like if Zach (Collaros) were in there. Very positive and was trying to lead and trying to get us going, but we just couldn’t get a spark.”