ANNAPOLIS, Md. - No. 24 Rutgers improved to 6-0, becoming bowl eligible the earliest in a season in school history with a 34-0 shutout over Navy (5-2) at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium Saturday afternoon.The Scarlet Knights limited the nation's top-ranked rushing offense to 113 yards on 50 carries. Navy (5-2) had been averaging 350.5 yards on the ground and had not been shut out since a 38-0 defeat against Connecticut in 2002.
Tiquan Underwood scored his first collegiate touchdown against the Midshipmen. (photo by Tomasso DeRosa)
Sophomore quarterback Mike Teel led the Scarlet Knights offensively with a career-high 215 yards and three touchdowns and the Rutgers defense held the nation's top rushing offensive (350 yards per game) to just 113 yards on the ground – its lowest total in four years.
The Rutgers defense recorded a season-high seven sacks, including a pair by senior defensive tackle Ramel Meekins and senior defensive end William Beckford. Meekins led the defensive charge with a game-high 12 tackles, three forced fumbles and two sacks. Junior safety Ron Girault added 11 tackles for RU, which posted its second shutout of the season.
Rutgers jumped out to a 3-0 lead as Jeremy Ito capped a 10-play, 59-yard drive with a 30-yard field goal with 8:39 to play in the second quarter.
The Scarlet Knight defense, which held Navy to just 32 yards on its first three possessions, once again stood tall, allowing just 10 more yards on the Mids' next two possessions before RU took over possession with under two minutes to go in the half.
Teel worked the two-minute offense to perfection, orchestrating a six-play, 59-yard scoring drive in just 38 seconds. He hit Tiquan Underwood over the middle for a 25-yard scoring strike with 1:17 left in the first half. The touchdown – the first of Underwood's career – put the Scarlet Knights on top 10-0 as the teams headed into the half. Three plays earlier, Teel found a streaking James Townsend for 29 yards to help set up the score.
The Scarlet Knights' special teams unit set up the next score as Manny Collins blocked Navy punter Greg Veteto's kick to give RU the ball on Navy's 23-yard line. Teel and the offense went back to work as the quarterback completed a 3-for-3 effort on the drive with a nine-yard bullet to Underwood in the endzone. The duo hooked up for their second TD of the afternoon as RU surged out to a 17-0 advantage.
Another three-and-out put Navy's punting unit back on the field. The RU special teams unit came up with another big play as sophomore Glen Lee blocked Veteto's punt and recovered it to give RU position on the Mids' nine-yard line. Ito made good on a 24-yard field goal to push the Scarlet Knights' lead to 20-0.
Rutgers continued its momentum into the final quarter as Teel capped a six-play, 54-yard drive with a 30-yard strike to Townsend – the first of his Scarlet Knight career.
Sophomore Ray Rice and freshman Kordell Young took care of the rest for Rutgers, piling up yards on the ground while chewing away at the clock. Rice, who finished with 93 yards on 21 carries, had several long bursts, including a 21-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. Young found pay dirt for the third time this season, capping a five-play, 28-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown to make it 34-0.
Navy's top offensive threat, quarterback Brian Hampton, was forced out of the game in the first quarter after dislocating his left leg.
Rutgers returns to BIG EAST action next Saturday, traveling to Pittsburgh (5-1, 2-0 BIG EAST) for a nationally televised matchup on ESPN2. Kickoff is slated for 5:45 p.m. at Heinz Field.
With today's victory, Rutgers now has six wins. It is the earliest point in the season the Scarlet Knights have been bowl eligible in school history.
The 6-0 record is the best start since 1976 when the Scarlet Knights finished the season 11-0.
The Scarlet Knights are now 6-1 in their last seven road games.
It marks the second time in as many years Rutgers has won three-straight road games. Last season, RU beat Buffalo, Syracuse and Connecticut in consecutive road contests. The Scarlet Knights opened the season with a victory at North Carolina (21-16) and in their last outing defeated USF on the road (22-20).
The Rutgers defense held Navy (ranked 20th nationally at 435 yards per game) to just 161 total yards, marking the Mids' lowest offensive total since an 82-yard performance against UConn on Nov. 16, 2002.
It is the third lowest offensive total by a Rutgers opponent this season. It is also the fourth time this season RU has held an opponent under 200 total offensive yards. The Scarlet Knight defense limited the nation's No. 1 rushing offense in Navy (averaging 350 yards per game) to just 113 yards. RU held the Mids' to their lowest ground total since Nov. 16, 2002 when they were limited to 35 yards rushing against UConn.
The shutout marks the first time since the 1992 season Rutgers has shut out two opponents in the same season. RU previously shut out Illinois, 33-0 in its second game of the season. In 1992, Rutgers shut out Navy (40-0) and Colgate (41-0).
It is the first time Navy has been shut out since Nov. 16, 2002 vs. Connecticut, 38-0.
The victory is the Scarlet Knights' first victory at Navy since the 2000 season.
The Rutgers defense registered seven sacks for a combined loss of 34 yards against Navy, marking the highest total of the season and the most since RU had nine against Cincinnati in the 2005 regular-season finale.
Senior FB Brian Leonard (Gouverneur, N.Y.) tied a BIG EAST record with a reception in 40 consecutive games following a seven-yard catch on the fifth play from scrimmage in the game. He is now tied with former West Virginia wide receiver Khori Ivy (1997-2000). Leonard finished the day with a pair of catches for 18 yards.
Leonard inches closer to reception record. With a pair of catches against Navy, Leonard has 190 for his career, two shy of Tres Mosses (2001-05) school record of 192.
Sophomore RB Ray Rice (New Rochelle, N.Y.) finished with 21 carries for 93 yards, ending his school-record streak of 100-yard games at seven. The streak is tied with the "JJ" Jennings (1972-73) as the school's longest of all time.
Sophomore QB Mike Teel (Oakland, N.J.) enjoyed a career day against Navy. He finished 15-for-26 for 215 yards and three touchdowns, establishing new career-highs in completions (previous was 14 achieved twice), yards (previous was 203 at Syracuse 10-15-05) and touchdowns (previous was 2 at Syracuse 10-15-05).
Senior TE Clark Harris (Manahawkin, N.J.) recorded a reception on the third play from scrimmage of the game, marking the 36th-straight game with a catch. The total is the fourth-longest in BIG EAST history, one short of former Miami wide receiver Reggie Wayne (1997-2000).
Harris finished the day with season highs in both receptions (5) and receiving yards (63).
Senior P Joe Radigan (Hoboken, N.J.) had another stellar day, punting four times for 169 yards for an average of 42.3 yards per punt. He landed all four punts inside Navy's own 20-yard line.
Sophomore WR Tiquan Underwood (Lawrenceville, N.J.) and junior WR James Townsend (Delran, N.J.) each had their first career touchdowns as Scarlet Knights against Navy. Underwood finished with a pair of touchdown receptions. Townsend, who played his first two years at the University of Iowa, had one previous career touchdown catch – a 60-yard TD with Iowa against Minnesota in the 2004 season.
Junior K Jeremy Ito (Loma Linda, Calif.) made a pair of field goals (30 and 24 yards), giving him 43 for his career. He is now three field goals behind Kennan Startzell's (1976-79) all-time school record of 46 field goals. Ito has now made 20 of his last 22 field goals.
Five of Ito's seven kickoffs went for touchbacks.
Senior DB Manny Collins (Plainfield, N.J.) blocked his second punt of the season in the third quarter, while sophomore DB Glen Lee (New Rochelle, N.Y.) recorded his first career blocked punt on Navy's next possession