PISCATAWAY, NJ -- Despite a fourth quarter comback attempt, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-2) lost to #4 Virginia Tech, 48-22 in front of 28,956 at Rutgers Stadium. The Scarlet Knights got out to an early 7-0 lead, but were unable to contain the Hokie offense the rest of the game. Rutgers did not go down without a fight, however, as the Scarlet Knights managed to score 15 points in :18 in the fourth quarter. The barrage was not enough, as Virginia Tech held off Rutgers the rest of the game to secure the victory. Rutgers was led by running back Brian Leonard (Gouverneur, NY) who recorded 106 all-purpose yards, including 76 on the ground.
After a 39-yard kick return by Nate Jones (Scotch Plains, NJ) to open the game, the Scarlet Knights were forced to punt by the Hokie defense. The special teams continued to go Rutgers’ way, as the usually sure-handed DeAngelo Hall muffed the 30-yard Joe Radigan (Hoboken, NJ) punt, and Leonard pounced on the loose ball for Rutgers. Rutgers didn’t waste time in putting the ball into the end zone, as quarterback Ryan Hart (Coral Springs, FL) hooked up with Shawn Tucker (Parkland, FL) twice, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to put Rutgers up 7-0. Tucker finished the game with four catches for 40 yards.
Virginia Tech showed its penchant for big plays, as Tech quarterback Bryan Randall hit wide receiver Chris Shreve on two long touchdown passes just 2:29 apart, putting the Hokies on top 14-7. The first touchdown came on a 28-yard pass, capping a nine play, 81-yard drive. After a Rutgers punt, the Hokies struck back with a 45-yard pass to take the lead for good.
Virginia Tech added another touchdown in the first quarter, as Kevin Jones capped a 6-play, 63-yard drive with a five-yard rush, giving Virginia Tech the 21-7 lead.
Randall completed a pass to Mike Imoh on the third play of the second quarter to give the Hokies the 28-7 lead. The teams remained scoreless until the closing seconds of the half, when defensive back Jimmy Williams returned a Hart pass 55 yards for the score. Williams was assessed an unsportsmanlike penalty for diving into the end zone, and on the ensuing PAT, Nate Jones was able to block the kick for Rutgers, holding the score at 34-7 heading into the locker room.
Virginia Tech took the second half kickoff and ran with it. The Hokies used 12 plays – including seven runs - and 5:35 off the clock to extend their lead to 41-7. Virginia Tech was led on the ground by Jones, who rushed for 118 yards on 26 carries in the game.
Rutgers showed it would not quit, as the Scarlet Knights picked off a pass from Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick near the close of the third quarter. Vick was flushed out of the pocket by defensive tackle David Harley (Tallahassee, FL) and with linebacker Will Gilkison (Union Beach, NJ) on his heels, Vick threw the ball down the sideline that was picked off by a leaping Terry Bynes (Ft. Lauderdale, FL). The pick was the first of Bynes’ career. Rutgers was able to capitalize on the turnover by rolling down the field on the Hokie defense, going 88 yards on 11 plays, capped off by a 21-yard run off right tackle by Justise Hairston (New Britain, CT) to close the gap to 41-14.
The Rutgers defense kept the momentum going, as Jarvis Johnson (Miami, FL) came across the middle and picked off another Vick pass, taking this one back all the way to the end zone for the 47-yard interception return. Rutgers elected to go for the two-point conversion, and Hart hooked up with Leonard for the two-yard pass to cut the Virginia Tech lead to 41-22. Virginia Tech added a late rushing touchdown to finish the scoring.
Rutgers rushed for 129 yards as a team, marking the fourth time this season the Scarlet Knights have rushed for over 100 yards. Hart was 16-33 for 182 yards, with one touchdown and four interceptions, on the game.
The Scarlet Knights take to the road next weekend, as they face off with the
Mountaineers of West Virginia on October 11 at noon.