The Scarlet Knights pounded the ball on the ground, handing it off 50 times (to Michigan State’s 22) and dominating in possession time (40:14 to 19:46). Rutgers also used its passing game efficiently, often keeping drives moving by converting through the air on third-and-longs (8-of-21 on third down overall).
The game began with a bang, as Brian Leonard (Gouverneur, NY) streaked down the MSU sideline for a 56-yard gain on Rutgers’ first play from scrimmage, but neither team was able to get on the scoreboard in the first quarter.
But, the Scarlet Knights were on the move as the quarter ended, and Rutgers capped a 15-play, 86-yard drive with a 24-yard field goal from true freshman Jeremy Ito (Redlands, CA) 52 seconds into the second quarter to take the early 3-0 lead.
On the first snap of Michigan State’s ensuing possession, RU’s David Harley (Tallahassee, FL) forced a fumble and Val Barnaby (Franklin, NJ) recovered the ball inside the Spartan 20-yard line. The Scarlet Knights, however, were unable to add to their lead, as Ito’s field-goal attempt was blocked.
Damon Dowdell completed a nine-yard pass to Matt Trannon to give Michigan State its first lead of the game, a 7-3 advantage with 9:55 remaining in the second quarter. However, the Scarlet Knights responded on the very next possession, twice converting on third and longs (11-yard catch by Chris Loomis, 13-yard reception by Leonard) to keep the drive alive. Ito knocked in a 47-yard attempt with 5:08 left in the half to pull the Scarlet Knights back to within one (7-6), a score that would remain unchanged at halftime.
The third quarter began with a three-and-out series for the Spartans, followed by a 51-yard drive for Rutgers that ended with an Ito 23-yard field goal (9:34) to give the Scarlet Knights the lead for good at 9-7.
The Scarlet Knights scored their only touchdown of the afternoon on a 31-yard interception return by Ryan Neill (Wayne Hills, NJ), making the score 16-7 at the 5:10 mark of the third quarter. Ito tacked on a 42-yard field goal, his school-record seventh attempt of the game, just before the end of the quarter to put RU ahead 19-7.
Dowdell hit Eric Knott for a 54-yard touchdown, making the score Rutgers 19, Michigan State 14, with 12:41 to play. Alfred Peterson (Miami, FL) posted back-to-back sacks to snuff out the Spartans’ next possession, and in the game’s closing moments, Jason Grant (Bayside, NY) forced a Knott fumble at the Rutgers 25-yard line, and Terry Bynes (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) fell on the ball to end the Spartans’ chances with 1:07 on the clock.
Ito made four of seven field-goal attempts in his collegiate debut (24 yards, 47, 23, 42) to establish the Rutgers record for attempts in a single game. Leonard led the RU ground attack with his 25 carries for 150 yards, as the redshirt sophomore surpassed the 1,000-yard career rushing plateau (1,030). Leonard also added six receptions for 40 yards for his sixth consecutive game of 100+ all-purpose yards. Ryan Hart (Coral Springs, FL) connected on 20 of 34 passes for 241 yards, completing a pass to 10 different receivers. Clark Harris (Manahawkin, NJ) caught three of those balls for a team-best 67 receiving yards. Senior Jarvis Johnson (Miami, FL) led the RU defense with nine tackles and one pass break up.
BIG GAIN STARTS ‘04 SEASON
Brian Leonard’s 56-yard carry on the first play from scrimmage was the longest play to start a game since 1999, when Mike Jones hit Walter King on an 80-yard TD pass on Oct. 16, 1999, in Morgantown. The carry was also five yards shy of Leonard’s career high of 61, established last season at Army (9/13). Last season, on Nov. 15, Ryan Hart hit Tres Moses on a 65-yard pass play on the second play from scrimmage vs. Boston College.
FIRST QUARTER TOTAL NOT A CAREER HIGH FOR LEONARD
Brian Leonard’s 94 rushing yards in the first quarter today, highlighted by his 56-yarder to open play, is the second-highest total for a quarter in his career. Last season vs. Connecticut, Leonard carried 13 times for 104 yards in the fourth quarter on his way to a career-best 184 yards.
LEONARD ECLIPSES 1,000 YARD PLATEAU
With a three-yard carry late in the third quarter, Brian Leonard reached the 1,000 mark for rushing yards in his career. His career total currently stands at 1,030 yards
LEONARD ALL-PURPOSE YARDAGE
With 190 all-purpose yards Leonard has now gained 988 yards (164.7 per game) in his last six contests. He has amassed at least 100 all-purpose yards in all six games and has now accomplished this feat nine times in his career. Leonard’s 100 all-purpose yard games:
Date Opponent Rush Rec Total
9/4/04 vs. Michigan St. 150 40 190
11/29/03 vs. Syracuse 138 45 183
11/22/03 at Miami 52 54 106
11/15/03 vs. BC 99 45 144
11/8/03 at UConn 184 33 217
10/25/03 at Temple 64 84 148
10/04/03 vs. Virginia Tech 76 30 106
9/13/03 at Army 132 38 170
9/6/03 at Michigan St. 31 74 105
RUTGERS RUSHES FOR OVER 100 YARDS IN 11 OF LAST 13 GAMES
With 174 rushing yards, Rutgers went over the 100-yard barrier for the fifth consecutive game and the 11th time in the last 13 games. One of the two games that the Knights did not reach the 100-yard mark was at Michigan St. last season when they finished with 36 carries for -2 yards.
HART CLIMBING THE CHARTS
With his effort today, Ryan Hart moved into the all-time top five in pass attempts and completions. Hart passed Ed McMichael (1978-80) and Tom Tarver (1989-91) to move into fifth place with 305 completions. He also passed Tarver on the attempts list and sits in fifth place with a career total of 543. Next up on both lists is former standout Eric Hochberg with 337 completions and 639 attempts.
Today’s attendance of 42,612 sets a Rutgers Stadium record. The previous high of 41,511 was established on 9/11/99 vs. Texas. Below is a list of the five highest Rutgers Stadium attendance figures:
1. 09/04/04 Michigan State 42,612
2. 09/11/99 Texas 41,511
3. 11/18/00 Notre Dame 40,011
4. 10/01/94 Miami 39,719
5. 10/15/94 Cincinnati 37,220
SCHOOL RECORD SET
Freshman kicker Jeremy Ito set a school record in his first collegiate game, attempting seven field goals this afternoon. Carmen Sclafani attempted six on Sept. 17, 1988, vs. Vanderbilt. His four successful conversions also set a new Rutgers Stadium record, besting the previous mark of three (Ryan Sands, BC, 11/15/03). Ito’s 47-yard conversion in the second quarter was one yard shy of the Scarlet Knights’ Rutgers Stadium record (48, Nick Mike-Mayer vs. Villanova, 8/31/96).
NEILL SCORES FIRST CAREER TOUCHDOWN
Defensive end Ryan Neill, making his first appearance since Nov. 2, 2002, intercepted a pass in the third quarter and returned it 31 yards for his first career score. Rutgers’ last defensive score came on Oct. 4, 2003, vs. Virginia Tech, when Jarvis Johnson returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown. He also scored the first TD by a defensive lineman since Aug. 31, 1996, a span of 90 games, when Rashod Swinger recovered a fumble in the end zone.
Eight players saw their first collegiate action this afternoon for the Scarlet Knights, the fewest in head coach Greg Schiano’s four seasons as head coach. Last season vs. Buffalo (8/30), 16 newcomers saw action in the season opener.
RU PLAYERS MAKING THEIR DEBUT THIS AFTERNOON:
Player Unit Player Unit
Jeremy Ito Field Goal Eric Foster Defensive End
Ron Girault Kick Off Return J’Vonne Parker Defensive Tackle
Jean Beljour Kick Off Return Orlando Kane Kick Off Return
Camerson Stephenson Field Goal Maurice Hines Kick Off
Box Score (Final) Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score ----------------- -- -- -- -- ----- Michigan State...... 0 7 0 7 - 14 Record: (0-1) Rutgers............. 0 6 13 0 - 19 Record: (1-0) Scoring Summary: 2nd 14:08 RUTGERS - ITO, Jeremy 24 yd field goal, 15-86 5:50, MSU 0 - RUTGERS 3 09:55 MSU - Trannon, Matt 9 yd pass from Dowdell, Damon (Rayner, Dave kick), 4-80 1:32, MSU 7 - RUTGERS 3 05:08 RUTGERS - ITO, Jeremy 47 yd field goal, 11-41 4:41, MSU 7 - RUTGERS 6 3rd 09:34 RUTGERS - ITO, Jeremy 23 yd field goal, 10-51 4:24, MSU 7 - RUTGERS 9 05:10 RUTGERS - NEILL, Ryan 31 yd interception return (ITO, Jeremy kick), , M SU 7 - RUTGERS 16 00:41 RUTGERS - ITO, Jeremy 42 yd field goal, 7-41 2:53, MSU 7 - RUTGERS 19 4th 12:41 MSU - Knott, Eric 54 yd pass from Dowdell, Damon (Rayner, Dave kick), 2-54 0:14, MSU 14 - RUTGERS 19 MSU RUTGERS FIRST DOWNS................... 16 21 RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 22-90 50-174 PASSING YDS (NET)............. 270 241 Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 39-22-1 34-20-1 TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 61-360 84-415 Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0 Punt Returns-Yards............ 3-23 3-35 Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 2-35 2-43 Interception Returns-Yards.... 1-19 1-31 Punts (Number-Avg)............ 8-44.6 5-39.8 Fumbles-Lost.................. 2-2 1-0 Penalties-Yards............... 10-73 4-30 Possession Time............... 19:46 40:14 Third-Down Conversions........ 2 of 12 8 of 21 Fourth-Down Conversions....... 0 of 1 0 of 0 Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 1-1 2-4 Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 0-0 2-10 RUSHING: Michigan State-Teague, Jason 13-79; Cobb, DeAndra 5-19; TEAM 1-minus 2; Dowdell, Damon 3-minus 6. Rutgers-LEONARD, Brian 25-150; HAIRSTON, Justi 15-30; FACYSON, Markis 4-11; HART, Ryan 2-minus 3; TEAM 4-minus 14. PASSING: Michigan State-Dowdell, Damon 22-39-1-270. Rutgers-HART, Ryan 20-34-1-241. RECEIVING: Michigan State-Trannon, Matt 5-77; Teague, Jason 5-49; Knott, Eric 3-62; Shabaj, Agim 3-33; Scott, Jerramy 2-20; Alexander, A. 2-14; Brown, Kyle 1-10; Cobb, DeAndra 1-5. Rutgers-LEONARD, Brian 6-40; HARRIS, Clark 3-67; TUCKER, Shawn 3-45; MOSES, Tres 2-18; BAKER, Chris 1-23; FACYSON, Markis 1-20; FOSTER, Willie 1-15; LOOMIS, Chris 1-11; JOHNSON, Sam 1-2; HAIRSTON, Justi 1-0. INTERCEPTIONS: Michigan State-Harmon, Jason 1-19. Rutgers-NEILL, Ryan 1-31. FUMBLES: Michigan State-Knott, Eric 1-1; Teague, Jason 1-1. Rutgers-TEAM 1-0. Stadium: Rutgers Stadium Attendance: 42612 Kickoff time: 3:30pm End of Game: 7:07pm Total elapsed time: 3:37 Officials: Referee: D. Witvoet; Umpire: M. Shupe; Linesman: J. Teitz; Line judge: J. Kouris; Back judge: R. Smith, Jr.; Field judge: T. Anderson; Side judge: B. Simons; Scorer: Rutgers; Temperature: 86 F Wind: NE 4 mph Weather: Sunny ID-263208