PISCATAWAY, NJ - The Rutgers Football annual Scarlet-White Spring game started how the regular season ended – with All-American Nathan Jones (Scotch Plains, NJ) making the headlines. Jones intercepted a Ted Trump (Delran, NJ) pass on the sixth play of the game and returned it 48-yards for a touchdown, giving the Scarlet team a 7-0 lead, and setting the tone for the remainder of the game. The Scarlet team, led by Jones and quarterback Ryan Hart (Coral Springs, FL), defeated the White team 21-0, in front of 4,500 Scarlet Knight faithful. The game used 12-minute quarters with running time.
The game, which marks the end of Rutgers’ Spring Practice 2003, gave the Scarlet Knights an opportunity to showcase their talents for the last time this scholastic year. Several younger Scarlet Knights excelled in the contest, including Hart, who was 7-for-9 for 102 yards. The highlight of the game came on a well-executed pass from Hart to Shawn Tucker (Parkland, FL), as the tandem connected on a 31-yard completion down the left sideline which saw Tucker leap in the air and come down with the ball over the defensive back.
The Scarlet team scored its two offensive touchdowns on the ground, on one-yard runs by Clarence Pittman (Miami, FL) and Brian Leonard (Gouverneur, NY). Pittman led the Scarlet team with 17 yards rushing on seven carries. He also recorded one catch, good for eight yards. Leonard had seven rushing yards, and caught one pass for 12 yards. Marcus Jones (St. Augustine, FL) led the White team on the ground with 20 yards rushing.
Tight End Clark Harris (Manahawkin, NJ) had a strong outing in the game, as he looks to fill the void left by the graduating LJ Smith – a consensus Top-50 prospect for this weekend’s NFL Draft. Harris led all receivers in the game with 62 yards on three catches.
On the defensive side, Piana Lukabu (Avenel, NJ) led all players with 8.5 tackles (seven solo, three assists) and two sacks, seeing time for both the Scarlet and White squads. Will Gilkison (Union Beach, NJ) recorded 4.5 tackles (four solo, on assist) to lead the White team.
The special teams were highlighted by the play of Joe Radigan (Hoboken NJ), who punted five times for an average of 41.6 yards per punt, including a long of 61 yards.
With Spring Practice now over, the Scarlet Knights look to benefit from a strong summer training period, in preparation for their 2003 season opener, when the Knights host Buffalo on August 30th at Rutgers Stadium. GAME STATS
Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano
On the game:
“ The coaches really wanted to throw the ball tonight and open up the offense. We were trying to work on things and make sure we get through spring practices healthy. I thought the game really flowed a lot better than last year. The kids are getting more comfortable on the field. We are heading down the right path. We are in much better shape than the start of the spring.”
On the quarterbacks:
“ I thought Ryan [Hart] looked real sharp tonight. His accuracy was good and a lot of his incompletions were a result of receivers’ drops. He has really come along, but there is still a lot more room to grow. He is getting better command of the field. As a fan watching the game, Ryan jumped out to me tonight. He is something.”
On the running game:
“ Brian Leonard also jumped out to me tonight. He runs like a winner and showed it tonight.”
On the defense:
“ Nate Jones’ interception was a heck of a play. To be a good player you have to make plays like that and that’s what Nate does.”
On the leadership this spring:
“ Guys are starting to step up and take leadership roles on this team. This summer, the goal is to create more chemistry with our team.”
RU QB Ryan Hart
“ I went out there today relaxed and just had fun running the offense and things clicked.”
“I came up here last year (from Florida) as a fan and watched it and I was looking forward to the chance to play all year.”
RU CB Nate Jones
“ The offense looked beautiful. They seem to be making great strides and clicking, so I’m nothing but optimistic right now.”