PISCATAWAY, NJ – Rutgers (3-1, 1-0 BIG EAST) defeated Pittsburgh (1-3, 0-1 BIG EAST) 37-29 in both teams’ BIG EAST Conference season opener Sept. 30 at Rutgers Stadium.
Rutgers raced out to a 27-0 halftime lead, building early momentum thanks to a turnover and a special teams touchdown. The sides traded punts in the first two possessions, but RU would find paydirt at the end of its second drive, a 33-yard connection from quarterback Ryan Hart (Coral Springs, FL) to fullback Brian Leonard (Gouverneur, NY), giving Rutgers a 7-0 lead less than six minutes into the contest.
On the ensuing kickoff return, Glen Lee (New Rochelle, NY) laid a hit on return man Marcel Pestano, forcing a fumble that was collected by Derrick Roberson (Oakland Park, FL). Seven plays later, Jeremy Ito (Redlands, CA) converted on a 22-yard field-goal attempt, pushing the Scarlet Knights ahead 10-0.
The RU defense held Pitt without a first down on its next possession, forcing a Panther punt. Willie Foster (Miami, FL) promptly ripped off a 71-yard return, swinging the momentum even more in Rutgers’ favor as the Scarlet Knights took a 17-0 lead with 1:44 remaining in the first quarter.
An Ito 26-yard field goal 59 seconds into the second quarter made the score 20-0, and another Hart-to-Leonard touchdown, this one 11 yards, ended the first-half scoring at 27-0 44 seconds before halftime.
The Panthers would not go away quietly, though, mounting a second-half comeback. A 13-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Palko to Greg Lee was followed by a Palko-to-Justin Acierno two-yard score, and Pitt was back in the ballgame at 27-14 with 4:42 showing on the clock in the third quarter.
However, Rutgers had an answer, a 25-yard touchdown pass from Hart to Tres Moses (Delray Beach, FL) to push RU’s lead back to 20 points (34-14) late in the third.
Palko hooked up with Steve Buches from 18 yards out for his third touchdown of the day, again cutting the Rutgers lead to less than two touchdowns (34-21, 13:38, fourth quarter). Ito, who was perfect on the evening, knocked through a 42-yard field goal on the Scarlet Knights’ very next possession for a 37-21 edge (10:03), but the Panthers answered back with a 14-play, 75-yard drive, one capped by a three-yard touchdown pass caught by Derek Kinder. Darrell Strong caught the two-point conversion pass, keeping Pitt within a single score at 37-29 with 7:26 remaining in the game.
A Ryan Neill (Wayne Hills, NJ) sack on second-and-nine helped end Pitt’s next possession prematurely, and a Brandon Renkart (Piscataway, NJ) interception sealed the victory for the Scarlet Knights in the game’s final seconds.
Hart completed 12 of 25 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns. His 17-yard second-quarter completion to Moses made him Rutgers’ all-time career leader in passing yardage. He finished the game with a total of 7,213 yards.
Leonard registered his 18th 100-yard all-purpose yardage total in the last 19 games, rushing for 68 yards while catching four passes for 62 yards. True freshman Ray Rice (New Rochelle, NY) had a career day running the ball, registering his first 100-yard total (114) on 15 carries. Shawn Tucker (Parkland, FL) led the RU receiving corps with 74 yards, while Moses chipped in 73.
Freshman Courtney Greene (New Rochelle, NY) led Rutgers with 8.5 tackles and a sack, while Devraun Thompson (Piscataway, NJ) added 6.5 tackles and three quarterback hits.
Rutgers will return to action Saturday, Oct. 8, when the Scarlet Knights host West Virginia at 12:00 p.m.
Hart Becomes Rutgers All-Time Passing Yardage Leader
Senior QB Ryan Hart became the Rutgers all-time leading passer with a 17-yard toss to WR Tres Moses in the second quarter. Hart completed 12-of-52 passes for 207 yards, giving him 7,273 for his career. He passed Scott Erney (7,188 yards from 1986-89).
Rutgers All-Time Passing Yards
1. RYAN HART 7,273
2. Scott Erney 7,188
Hart Tosses 3 TDs, Moves into Second-All-Time
Ryan Hart moved into second place all time in RU history in TD passes and became just the fourth QB in Rutgers history to pass for 40 TDs when he connected with FB Brian Leonard on a 33-yard screen pass in the first quarter. He added his 41st career TD on an 11-yarder to Leonard in the second quarter. And his 43rd TD was a 25-yarder to Tres Moses in the third quarter.
1. Ray Lucas (1992-95) 43
2. RYAN HART (2002-) 42
3. Mike McMahon (1997-00) 41
Scott Erney (1986-89) 41
Hart Has 20th Career 200-yard Passing Game
Ryan Hart passed for 207 yards vs. Pitt, eclipsing the 200-yard passing mark for the 20th game in his career.
Junior Willie Foster’s 71-yard punt return in the first quarter was his first career punt return for a TD. In his career, he has also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, an 80-yarder vs. UConn on Nov. 25, 2004, and a 93-yarder earlier this season vs. Villanova on Sept. 10, 2005. It was the first punt return for a TD for Rutgers since Tres Moses returned a punt 66 yards for a TD vs. Buffalo on August 30, 2003.
Foster became the first Scarlet Knight to return both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown during the same season since Ken Smith in 1980.
True freshman WR Tiquan Underwood had the first eight rushing attempts of his young career (for 28 yards vs. Pitt, taking a direct snap from center as the QB in the shotgun each time.
Hart’s Streak of Passes Without an Interception Ends at 139
Senior QB Ryan Hart entered the Pitt game with a streak of 127 consecutive passes thrown without an interception. His streak began with his first pass attempt vs. UConn on Nov. 25, 2004. He threw his first interception of the 2005 season in the second quarter vs. Pitt on his 13th pass attempt of the game, ending his consecutive passes without an interception streak at 139.
Largest Halftime Lead Since 2000
Rutgers’ 27-0 halftime lead over Pitt was RU’s largest since the Knights took a 31-0 halftime lead en route to a 59-0 win over Buffalo on Sept. 9, 2000.
Largest Halftime Lead in a BIG EAST Game for RU since 1993
Rutgers’ 27-0 halftime lead over Pitt was RU’s largest lead in a BIG EAST game since the Knights took a 41-0 halftime lead vs. Temple on October 2, 1993.
Ito Consecutive Field Goals
Sophomore PK Jeremy Ito has converted six consecutive field goals (three tonight).
Rice Career High in Rushing
True freshman RB Ray Rice had a career-high in rushing yardage with 114 yards on 15 carries. He also had the two longest runs of his career, a 33-yarder in the second half and a 32-yarder in the first half. He is the sixth current RU player to have rushed for 100 yards in a game (Brian Leonard, Justise Hairston, Markis Facyson, Clarence Pittman and Jason Nugent [now a defensive back]).
Dirksz, Watts See First Action
True freshman DL Chris Dirksz and Gary Watts saw the first action of their careers vs. Pitt. Sixteen RU newcomers have seen action this season.
Tres Moses and Brian Leonard Continue Receptions Streaks
Senior WR Tres Moses and junior FB Brian Leonard each extended their consecutive games with a reception streak to 26, which ties them for eighth place with former Pitt WR Dietrich Jells (1991-94) among all-time BIG EAST players.
Leonard Gains 100 All-Purpose Yards
For the 18th time in 19 games, junior FB Brian Leonard eclipsed the 100-yard mark in all-purpose yardage. Against Pittsburgh, Leonard had 68 yards rushing and 62 yards passing.
Box Score (Final) PITTSBURGH vs RUTGERS (Sep 30, 2005 at Piscataway, NJ) Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score ----------------- -- -- -- -- ----- PITTSBURGH.......... 0 0 14 15 - 29 Record: (1-4,0-1) RUTGERS............. 17 10 7 3 - 37 Record: (3-1,1-0) Scoring Summary: 1st 09:25 RUTGERS - LEONARD, Brian 33 yd pass from HART, Ryan (ITO, Jeremy kick), 4-80 1:28, PITT 0 - RUTGERS 7 05:59 RUTGERS - ITO, Jeremy 22 yd field goal, 7-18 3:21, PITT 0 - RUTGERS 10 04:10 RUTGERS - FOSTER, Willie 71 yd punt return (ITO, Jeremy kick), PITT 0 - RUTGERS 17 2nd 14:01 RUTGERS - ITO, Jeremy 26 yd field goal, 8-48 2:37, PITT 0 - RUTGERS 20 00:44 RUTGERS - LEONARD, Brian 11 yd pass from HART, Ryan (ITO, Jeremy kick) 5-40 1:29, PITT 0 - RUTGERS 27 3rd 10:39 PITT - LEE,Greg 13 yd pass from PALKO,Tyler (ABDUL,David kick), 8-66 4:11, PITT 7 - RUTGERS 27 04:42 PITT - ACIERNO,Justin 2 yd pass from PALKO,Tyler (ABDUL,David kick), 5-38 1:46, PITT 14 - RUTGERS 27 00:15 RUTGERS - MOSES, Tres 25 yd pass from HART, Ryan (ITO, Jeremy kick), 3-27 0:59, PITT 14 - RUTGERS 34 4th 13:38 PITT - BUCHES,Steve 18 yd pass from PALKO,Tyler (ABDUL,David kick), 7-46 1:30, PITT 21 - RUTGERS 34 10:03 RUTGERS - ITO, Jeremy 42 yd field goal, 8-57 3:29, PITT 21 - RUTGERS 37 07:26 PITT - KINDER,Derek 3 yd pass from PALKO,Tyler (STRONG,Darrell pass from PALKO,Tyler), 14-72 2:30, PITT 29 - RUTGERS 37 PITT RUTGERS FIRST DOWNS................... 24 19 RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 25--11 43-203 PASSING YDS (NET)............. 371 250 Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 59-35-1 28-14-2 TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 84-360 71-453 Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0 Punt Returns-Yards............ 4-116 1-71 Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 7-167 4-89 Interception Returns-Yards.... 2-4 1-13 Punts (Number-Avg)............ 6-40.3 6-37.8 Fumbles-Lost.................. 2-2 1-0 Penalties-Yards............... 7-45 13-102 Possession Time............... 27:50 32:10 Third-Down Conversions........ 9 of 19 6 of 15 Fourth-Down Conversions....... 1 of 3 0 of 0 Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 4-5 3-3 Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 1-8 5-45 RUSHING: PITTSBURGH-KIRKLEY,Raymond 8-15; MURPHY,Tim 7-8; PALKO,Tyler 10-minus 34. RUTGERS-RICE, Ray 15-114; LEONARD, Brian 18-68; UNDERWOOD, Tiqu 8-28; TEEL, Mike 1-1; HART, Ryan 1-minus 8. PASSING: PITTSBURGH-PALKO,Tyler 35-58-1-371; GRAESSLE,Adam 0-1-0-0. RUTGERS-HART, Ryan 12-25-2-207; TEEL, Mike 2-3-0-43. RECEIVING: PITTSBURGH-KINDER,Derek 10-78; LEE,Greg 9-130; DELSARDO,Joe 5-41; STRONG,Darrell 4-59; BUCHES,Steve 2-39; KIRKLEY,Raymond 2-9; ACIERNO,Justin 2-7; GILL,Erik 1-8. RUTGERS-TUCKER, Shawn 4-74; MOSES, Tres 4-73; LEONARD, Brian 4-62; HARRIS, Clark 2-41. INTERCEPTIONS: PITTSBURGH-REVIS,Darrelle 1-0; HORNE,J.J. 1-4. RUTGERS-RENKART, Brando 1-13. FUMBLES: PITTSBURGH-PALKO,Tyler 1-1; PESTANO,Marcel 1-1. RUTGERS-HART, Ryan 1-0. Stadium: Rutgers Stadium Attendance: 37514 Kickoff time: 8:06pm End of Game: 12:01pm Total elapsed time: 3:55 Officials: Referee: J. Cramer; Umpire: R. Kumiega; Linesman: T. Gray; Line judge: J. Salmon; Back judge: K. Washington; Field judge: R. Sokolowski; Side judge: P. Garvey; Scorer: RUTGERS; Temperature: 56 deg F Wind: Calm Weather: Clear 59% Humidity ID-353291