EAST HARTFORD, CT – Rutgers got off to its best season start since 1991, defeating Connecticut (4-2, 1-1 BIG EAST) 26-24 Oct. 22 at Rentschler Field to improve to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in BIG EAST Conference play.
In a defensive-minded first half, the Scarlet Knights struck first when Jeremy Ito (Redlands, CA) nailed a 44-yard field goal with 2:57 remaining in the first quarter. But, the Huskies would come back, and took their first lead of the afternoon on a seven-yard pass from Dennis Brown to Dan Murray with 6:15 on the clock in the second quarter. UConn tacked on a 40-yard field goal 15 seconds before halftime, and took a 10-3 lead into the locker room.
On their first possession of the second half, RU drove 91 yards down the field to tie the ballgame. True freshman Ray Rice (New Rochelle, NY) chewed up 56 yards on three carries during the drive, and Ryan Hart (Coral Springs, FL) capped it by finding Brian Leonard (Gouverneur, NY) for a 19-yard passing touchdown, making the score 10-10 6:25 into the third quarter. Hart tied the Rutgers career record for passing touchdowns (43) with the screen pass to Leonard.
Three possessions later, Connecticut again took a seven-point lead on a 51-yard scamper, pushing the Huskies ahead 17-10 with 5:33 remaining in the third. But, Rutgers had an immediate answer, engineering a five-play, 79-yard touchdown drive. A 29-yard rush by Rice was immediately followed by a 31-yard completion from Hart to senior Tres Moses (Delray Beach, FL), again evening the score with 3:09 to play in the quarter. The touchdown pass made Hart the career leader with 44 during his time “On the Banks.”
RU took its first lead since late in the first quarter when Brown could not handle the snap out of the shotgun less than six minutes into the fourth quarter. With the line of scrimmage at the UConn 10-yard line, the ball got past Brown and bounced into the end zone. The Connecticut quarterback tracked it down and slapped it through the back of the end zone, taking the safety instead of risking a Rutgers touchdown.
On the ensuing possession, Rice again shouldered the load, picking up 61 yards on six straight carries. Hart then went to the air, finding Sam Johnson (Midland Park, NJ) for a 15-yard touchdown and a 26-17 lead with
5:42 to play.
Brown hooked up with Jason Williams for a 15-yard touchdown with 2:40 remaining in the game, pulling UConn to within two points (26-24).
Connecticut attempted the on-side kickoff, but the ball squirted through and out of bounds, giving the Scarlet Knights a drive start on its own 43 yard line. RU bled 2:20 off the clock, punting the ball away and downing it on the Connecticut nine with 20 seconds remaining. In its last gasp, the UConn threw deep, but Ron Girault (Spring Valley, NY) came up with the interception to ice the game.
Redshirt freshman Mike Teel (Oakland, NJ) started the game and completed 10 of 22 passes for 176 yards in the first half. Hart came in to start the second half and was 5-for-11 for 94 yards and three touchdowns. Rice led the rushing attack with a career-high 217 yards, the fourth-best single-game total in RU history and best ever for a true freshman. Leonard carried 10 times for 33 yards and caught four passes for 46 yards and a touchdown, moving into third place on the Rutgers career all-purpose yardage list (3,431) and seventh place in career scoring (194). Junior Clark Harris (Manahwakin, NJ) grabbed four passes for 95 yards, while Moses added three catches for 69 yards and a touchdown, moving into seventh place in career all-purpose yardage (3,205). Leonard (29 games), Moses (29) and Harris (25) all kept their streaks alive of consecutive games with at least one reception.
Girault, Corey Barnes (Miami, FL), Courtney Greene (New Rochelle, NY) and Chenry Lewis (Paterson, NJ) each had six tackles in a balanced Scarlet Knight defensive effort. Ryan Neill (Wayne, NJ), second nationally in tackles-for-loss with 2.50 per game entering the UConn match-up, added two more against the Huskies, and five total tackles.
As a group, the RU defense, ranked second nationally in TFLs and tied for fourth in sacks, had 10 and four, respectively. The Scarlet Knights outgained the Huskies 238-97 on the ground, and posted 508 total yards to UConn’s 293. RU, a 37-29 winner against Pittsburgh Sept. 29, is tied with Pitt for second place in the BIG EAST standings with identical 3-1 records.
Rutgers will return to action Saturday, Oct. 29, when RU hosts Navy before a homecoming crowd at 3:30 p.m.
Ryan Hart Becomes Rutgers All-time Career Leader in TD Passes
Senior QB Ryan Hart’s 31-yard third quarter TD pass to senior WR Tres Moses gave him 44 career TD passes, making him Rutgers’ all-time leader. Hart passed Ray Lucas, who threw 43 scoring passes from 1992-95. Hart’s 19-yard TD pass in the third quarter to FB Brian Leonard was the 43rd of his career, tying tied him with Lucas. Hart’s 15-yard TD Pass to TE Sam Johnson in the fourth quarter was his 45th career TD.
Rice Fourth-Best Rushing Day in Rutgers History
True freshman RB Ray Rice rushed for 217 yards on 27 carries, which was the fourth-best rushing day in Rutgers history and the best ever by a Scarlet Knight true freshman. It marked the first time a Rutgers back has rushed for more than 200 yards since Terrell Willis ran for 207 yards vs. Navy on 9/16/95. It was just the seventh 200-yard rushing day ever by a Rutgers player.
Moses Third All-Time in Career TD Receptions
Tres Moses moved into sole possession of third place on Rutgers’ all-time career TD reception list when he hauled in a 31-yard scoring strike from Ryan Hart in the third quarter. Moses now has caught 14 TD passes. The current all-time leader is Chris Brantley, who caught 17 TD passes from 1990-93, while No. 2 is former All-America TE Marco Battaglia, who caught 16 TD passes in his career (1992-95).
Second Time Over 100 For Rice
The 217-yard rushing day vs. Connecticut marked the second time that Rice eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in his career. Earlier this season, he had 114 yards on 15 carries vs. Pittsburgh (9/30/05). The last time an RU true freshman rushed for 100 yards in a game was Justise Hairston, who gained 161 yards on 31 carries vs. Navy (9/27/03).
Moses, Leonard Extend Reception Streak to 29 Games
Senior WR Tres Moses’ 23-yard first quarter catch extended his consecutive game reception streak to 29 games. Junior RB Brian Leonard’s one-yard first quarter reception extended his consecutive receiving streak to 29 games.
Harris Extends Reception Streak to 25 Consecutive Games
Senior TE Clark Harris’ 13-yard first quarter catch vs. Connecticut extended his consecutive reception streak to 25 games.
Rutgers Records Safety
Rutgers’ third quarter safety vs. Connecticut was its first since the Kent State game on 9/8/04.
Malast Sees First Career Action
True freshman LB Kevin Malast became the 22nd player this season to see the first collegiate action of his career when he appeared vs. Connecticut.
Box Score (Final) RUTGERS vs CONNECTICUT (Oct 22, 2005 at East Hartford, CT) Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score ----------------- -- -- -- -- ----- RUTGERS............. 3 0 14 9 - 26 Record: (5-2,3-1) CONNECTICUT......... 0 10 7 7 - 24 Record: (4-3,1-2) Scoring Summary: 1st 02:57 RUTGERS - ITO, Jeremy 44 yd field goal, 11-66 5:14, RUTGERS 3 - UCONN 0 2nd 06:15 UCONN - MURRAY, Dan 7 yd pass from BROWN, Dennis (NUZIE, Matt kick), 7-70 2:36 RUTGERS 3 - UCONN 7 00:15 UCONN - NUZIE, Matt 40 yd field goal, 4-8 0:26, RUTGERS 3 - UCONN 10 3rd 08:35 RUTGERS - LEONARD, Brian 19 yd pass from HART, Ryan (ITO, Jeremy kick), 6-91 2:54 RUTGERS 10 - UCONN 10 05:33 UCONN - BROCKINGTON, C. 51 yd run (NUZIE, Matt kick), 1-51 0:11 RUTGERS 10 - UCONN 17 03:09 RUTGERS - MOSES, Tres 31 yd pass from HART, Ryan (ITO, Jeremy kick), 5-79 2:24 RUTGERS 17 - UCONN 17 4th 09:20 RUTGERS - TEAM safety, RUTGERS 19 - UCONN 17 05:42 RUTGERS - JOHNSON, Sam 15 yd pass from HART, Ryan (ITO, Jeremy kick), 6-57 3:38 RUTGERS 26 - UCONN 17 02:40 UCONN - WILLIAMS, Jason 15 yd pass from BROWN, Dennis (NUZIE, Matt kick), 10-88 1:30 RUTGERS 26 - UCONN 24 RUTGERS UCONN FIRST DOWNS................... 22 17 RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 42-238 33-97 PASSING YDS (NET)............. 270 196 Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 33-15-2 35-18-1 TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 75-508 68-293 Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0 Punt Returns-Yards............ 1-4 2-50 Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 5-103 5-148 Interception Returns-Yards.... 1-0 2-15 Punts (Number-Avg)............ 7-41.0 9-40.2 Fumbles-Lost.................. 1-0 1-0 Penalties-Yards............... 5-53 12-80 Possession Time............... 32:10 27:50 Third-Down Conversions........ 4 of 15 6 of 17 Fourth-Down Conversions....... 0 of 1 0 of 0 Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 2-2 2-2 Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 4-33 1-6 RUSHING: RUTGERS-RICE, Ray 27-217; LEONARD, Brian 10-26; FOSTER, Willie 1-2; HART, Ryan 1-1; UNDERWOOD, Tiqu 1-0; TEAM 1-minus 2; TEEL, Mike 1-minus 6. CONNECTICUT-BROCKINGTON, C. 3-56; CAULLEY, Terry 10-26; ALLEN, Lou 6-19; BARKSDALE, A. 1-1; BROWN, Dennis 13-minus 5. PASSING: RUTGERS-TEEL, Mike 10-22-2-176; HART, Ryan 5-11-0-94. CONNECTICUT-BROWN, Dennis 18-35-1-196. RECEIVING: RUTGERS-HARRIS, Clark 4-95; LEONARD, Brian 4-46; MOSES, Tres 3-69; TUCKER, Shawn 2-33; JOHNSON, Sam 1-15; FOSTER, Willie 1-12. CONNECTICUT-WILLIAMS, Jason 5-51; MURRAY, Dan 2-30; McLEAN, Brandon 2-29; YOUNG, Brandon 2-22; CAULLEY, Terry 2-22; FOGARTY, Seth 2-16; BARKSDALE, A. 1-11; BROUSE, Steve 1-10; ALLEN, Lou 1-5. INTERCEPTIONS: RUTGERS-GIRAULT, Ron 1-0. CONNECTICUT-BRANCH, Tyvon 1-15; TAYLOR, Marvin 1-0. FUMBLES: RUTGERS-FOSTER, Willie 1-0. CONNECTICUT-BROWN, Dennis 1-0. Stadium: Rentschler Field Attendance: 40000 Kickoff time: 3:05 pm End of Game: 6:41 pm Total elapsed time: 3:36 Officials: Referee: Dennis Hennigan; Umpire: Bruce Palmer; Linesman: Kavin McGrath; Line judge: Hugh Campbell; Back judge: Gary Dancewicz; Field judge: Dyrol Prioleau; Side judge: Greg Yette; Scorer: Andrew Prince; Temperature: 42 Wind: N 3 Weather: Rainy and Raw