PISCATAWAY, N.J. (October 29, 2011) – Rutgers could not withstand a second-half comeback from No. 25/24 West Virginia Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium, falling 41-31 to the Mountaineers. The Scarlet Knights led 31-21 at halftime break thanks to standout performances from RB Jawan Jamison (Starke, Fla) and QB Gary Nova (Elmwood Park, N.J.).
Both players accounted for two touchdowns, with Jamison rushing for 96 yards and a career-high two touchdowns while Nova threw for 235 yards and a pair of scoring strikes to Mohamed Sanu (South Brunswick, N.J.) and Mark Harrison (Stratford, Conn.).
Rutgers dropped to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the BIG EAST, while WVU improved to 6-2 (2-1 BIG EAST).
Rutgers took a 3-0 lead at 7:17 in the high-scoring opening quarter when San San Te (Conover, N.C.) connected on a 40-yard field goal. WVU struck back to take its first lead on its next drive with a 48-yard touchdown run from running back Shawne Alston at the 6:07 mark to go up 7-3.
The Scarlet Knights opportunistic defense put RU in scoring position when a blitz forced West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith to fumble and defensive end Manny Abreu (Union City, N.J.) pounced on the ball at WVU’s 11-yard line. Nova then connected short to Sanu, who bounced off a tackle and sprinted across the goal line to put Rutgers in the lead 10-7.
West Virginia retook the lead 14-7 at 3:18 with a reverse pitch to WR Tavon Austin, who went 80 yards for the score. The WVU advantage lasted shortly with Nova finding Harrison for a 45-yard touchdown toss on the next possession. The RU signal caller stepped up in the pocket to avoid pressure from the WVU defenders to hit Harrison streaking down the field at 1:41 in the first quarter to set Rutgers’ advantage at 17-14.
In second quarter action, the Mountaineers went up 21-17 with a two-yard rush from Alston at the 13:05 mark after a Rutgers turnover. RU responded with a nine-play, 63-yard touchdown drive, capped by a one-yard plunge by Jamison to go up 24-21 with 9:23 remaining in the half.
It was Jamison again for Rutgers to put the Scarlet Knights up 31-21 with 2:53 left in the second quarter. On a fourth-and-one play, the redshirt freshman rushed around the right side for 18 yards to score the touchdown.
WVU scored the first points of the second half with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Stedman Bailey to close RU’s advantage to 31-28 with 7:23 left in the third quarter.
Later in the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers took the lead with a one-yard touchdown carry by Smith. WVU missed the extra point to set the score at 34-31.
The scoring drive for WVU came after Rutgers attempted a fake field goal deep in WVU territory, but the play was broken up at the last minute as holder Patrick Kivlehan (West Nyack, N.Y.) could not complete the pass to wide receiver Brandon Coleman (Accokeek, Md.) in the end zone with just over 11 minutes to play.
After a Nova fumble, West Virginia added seven more points with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Austin to go up 41-31 with 4:50 remaining to close out the scoring.
Rutgers returns to action Saturday, November 5 at home vs. USF. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. with live coverage on ESPN3.
POST GAME NOTES
No. 25/24 West Virginia (6-2, 2-1 BIG EAST) erased a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat Rutgers (5-3, 2-2 BIG EAST) 41-31 Saturday afternoon at a snowy High Point Solutions Stadium.
Game captains for the Scarlet Knights were junior CB Marcus Cooper (Bloomfield, Conn.), senior DT Justin Francis (Opa-Locka, Fla.), junior WR Mohamed Sanu (South Brunswick, N.J.) and senior C Caleb Ruch (Quakertown, Pa.).
Rutgers scored 31 first-half points – the most points scored in any half of play this season.
The Scarlet Knights defensively held WVU to 2-of-13 third down conversions for the game.
Rutgers dropped to 38-13 all-time under head coach Greg Schiano when rushing for 150 yards or more in a game. The Scarlet Knights finished the game with 151 rushing yards.
Mohamed Sanu finished the game with five receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown. He moved into third place in Rutgers single-season history with 70 receptions, passing former consensus All-America TE Marco Battaglia in the record books. Battaglia totaled 69 receptions in 1995.
Sanu has 12 career touchdown receptions, tied for ninth in Rutgers career history.
Junior WR Mark Harrison (Stratford, Conn.) caught a 45-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter to move into a tie for ninth place in Rutgers career history with 12 career touchdown receptions.
Redshirt freshman RB Jawan Jamison (Starke, Fla.) led Rutgers with 19 rushing attempts for 96 rushing yards and a career-high two rushing touchdowns.
Justin Francis led Rutgers with a career-high 10 tackles, including 1.5 for loss and one quarterback hurry. Francis’ previous career-best for tackles was set earlier this season (8 vs. Pitt).
San San Te (Conover, N.C.) moved past former All-America RB Ray Rice for sole possession of second place in career scoring at Rutgers with seven points vs. WVU (1 FG, 4 extra points). Te and Rice entered the game tied for second in RU history with 300 career points. Jeremy Ito holds the Rutgers career record with 400 points.
Sophomore DE Jamil Merrell (Bear, Del.) made his first career start and finished with a career-best four tackles.