CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Rutgers (1-1) defense forced five North Carolina (2-0) turnovers and sophomore signal caller Chas Dodd (Lyman, S.C) threw for 243 yards and two scores, but it was not enough as the Scarlet Knights fell by a 24-22 score to the Tar Heels Saturday afternoon at Kenan Stadium. Junior receiver Mohamed Sanu (South Brunswick, N.J.), one of eight players to catch Dodd passes, was his favorite target, grabbing 13 aerials for 119 yards and a touchdown.
Junior linebacker Khaseem Greene (Elizabeth, N.J.) paced an opportunistic defense with a career-high 13 tackles (11 solo), while also adding a forced fumble and a pair of tackles for losses. Sophomore cornerback Logan Ryan (Berlin, N.J.) also registered double digit stops, with 10 tackles (seven solo) and a pair of forced fumbles.
Senior placekicker San San Te (Conover, N.C.) had a notable day as well, with a career-high tying three field goals playing in his home state. Te split the uprights from 34, 50 and 19 yards. The 50-yard boot tied his career-best distance en route to a 10 point performance.
North Carolina posted the afternoon’s first points. Quarterback Bryan Renner connected with wideout Dwight Jones on a 66-yard scoring aerial to cap a four play, 80-yard drive. The hook-up provided the home squad a 7-0 advantage and marked the initial points of the season surrendered by the Scarlet Knights.
Duron Harmon (Magnolia, Del.) provided RU’s best highlight of the opening quarter. The junior safety intercepted a Renner pass and returned the theft 40 yards to the two-yard line. Unfortunately, the Scarlet Knights were unable to cross the plane and the first quarter closed with RU trailing by a touchdown.
Courtesy of its aggressive defense, Rutgers wasted little time registering digits on the scoreboard in the second stanza. Ryan forced a fumble after a pass completion just inside RU territory. The fumble was recovered by David Rowe (Cocoa, Fla.), who raced 33 yards before being pushed out of bounds at UNC 25. Four plays later, Te split the uprights from 35 yards out with 14:26 on the second quarter clock.
The Scarlet Knights forced their third consecutive turnover on UNC’s ensuing possession. This time, Greene forced the fumble after the completion and Rowe recovered. Eight plays and 29 yards later, Te booted a career-long tying 50 yard field goal. The Scarlet Knights trailed 7-6 with 9:35 remaining before the break.
The Tar Heels extended their lead to 14-6 on a 60-yard scoring run by Giovani Bernard with 8:40 to play in the second stanza.
The defense continued its productive progress, forcing its fourth turnover, as the half wound to a close. Junior Scott Vallone (Central Islip, N.Y.) deflected a pass that was intercepted by Wayne Warren (Salisbury, Md.) and returned 15 yards to the UNC 44. The Scarlet Knights, aided by a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty, moved the ball to the 18 yard line. Dodd then found Sanu, who made an acrobatic, one-handed touchdown grab across the middle. The two point conversion was no good an RU was within two points, 14-12.
The final points of the opening half belonged to the Tar Heels. Casey Barth kicked a 46-yard field goal as the clock wound to a close to send the home squad to the locker room with a 17-12 advantage.
The Scarlet Knights engineered their longest drive of the afternoon on the opening drive of the second half. Dodd moved the team 74 yards on 12 plays in six minutes. The possession culminated in a 19-yard field goal by Te, his third of the game, to bring RU within two points, 17-15.
North Carolina answered with seven play, 49-yard drive to pay dirt. Bernard carried in from six yards to provide the home squad a 24-15 lead with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter.
Rutgers responded in definitive fashion. Dodd engineered a 13 play, 62-yard drive that consumed 5:27 of clock time. It culminated in a five yard scoring toss to Tim Wright (Wall Township, N.J.), marking the junior wideout’s first career touchdown. After the extra point, the Scarlet Knights trailed by just two points once again, 24-22, with 10:40 to play.
Unfortunately for the Scarlet faithful, Wright’s touchdown marked the final points of the afternoon. Rutgers moved the ball in its own territory to the 42 yard line with under three minutes play during its last possession, but turned the ball over on downs to seal the final score.
The Scarlet Knights returns to the gridiron on Saturday, Sept. 24, to host Ohio in a 2 p.m. kickoff at High Point Solutions Stadium. It will mark the third meeting between Rutgers and the Mid American Conference opponent, with RU having won the last contest, 24-7, at home in 2006. The game will be available live on the web at ESPN3.com.
POST GAME NOTES
Rutgers (1-1) lost a hard-fought 24-22 decision at North Carolina (2-0) Saturday at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill. Rutgers is 3-3 all-time vs. UNC (1-1 in Chapel Hill).
Game captains for Rutgers were senior OG Art Forst (Manasquan, N.J.), senior DT Justin Francis (Opa-Locka, Fla.), senior PK San San Te (Conover, N.C.) and OT Desmond Stapleton (Union, N.J.).
Rutgers is 5-6 road openers under Greg Schiano.
The Scarlet Knights forced five UNC turnovers and did not commit a turnover in the two-point loss.
Junior WR Mohamed Sanu (South Brunswick, N.J.) caught a career-high 13 passes for 119 yards. He caught an 18-yard touchdown from Chas Dodd (Lyman, S.C.) on a brilliant, one-handed grab in the end zone. Sanu’s previous game high for receptions was 10.
Sanu’s 113 yards receiving also established a new career-best for the junior. It was the fourth 100-yard receiving game of his career.
Junior LB Khaseem Greene (Elizabeth, N.J.) finished with a game-high and career-best 13 tackles. Greene totaled nine tackles in the first half alone.
Junior SS Duron Harmon (Magnolia, Del.) recorded his third interception in two games in the first quarter for the Scarlet Knights.
San San Te booted three field goals, including a 50-yarder (tied career-long). Te equaled a career-high with three field goals vs. UNC. He moved into a tie for seventh place in BIG EAST history with the three field goals (49 career field goals).
Junior WR Tim Wright (Wall, N.J.) caught his first career touchdown pass and finished the contest with a career-best three receptions.
Dodd completed passes to eight different receivers, finishing the day 25-of-47 passing for 243 yards and two touchdowns. The 25 completions and 47 attempts were career-highs for the sophomore signal caller.