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Rutgers Tops NC State 29-23 to Win PapaJohns.com Bowl
Scarlet Knights Claim Third-Straight Bowl Victory
  • Posted on December 29, 2008 6:56:28 PM
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  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Senior QB Mike Teel (Oakland, N.J.) led the Scarlet Knights on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter as the Rutgers football team (8-5, 5-2 BIG EAST) earned its third-consecutive bowl victory, defeating NC State 29-23 in the PapaJohns.com Bowl on Monday in Birmingham, Ala. It marked Rutgers’ fourth-straight bowl appearance – a program first –under eight-year head coach Greg Schiano.

    Mike Teel
    Mike Teel was named the MVP of the PapaJohns.com Bowl after finishing the game 22-of-37 passing for 319 yards and two touchdowns. PHOTO GALLERY
    Entering the PapaJohns.com Bowl, Rutgers was previously 0-5 in 2008 when trailing after three quarters.

    Named the bowl’s Most Valuable Player, Teel completed 22-of-37 for 319 yards and two touchdowns. The 300-yard passing game was the 10th of Teel’s career which tied the Rutgers all-time record. It was also his first game-winning fourth quarter drive since Nov. 9, 2006 when he led RU to a 28-25 victory over then-No.3 Louisville.

    Adding to the record-setting evening, wide receiver Kenny Britt (Bayonne, N.J.) became the BIG EAST’s all-time leading receiver on a 42-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. The junior recorded 3,043 yards for his career, passing former Pittsburgh receiver Dietrich Jells (1991-95, 3,003 yards) for the conference mark. For the game, Britt caught six passes for 119 yards; tying him with Pitt receiver Larry Fitzgerald (2002-03) for the BIG EAST record with 14 100-yard receiving games for his career. His one touchdown catch also tied the Rutgers all-time record with 17 career TD receptions.

    NC State opened the game with a 10-yard return to its own 37 yard line. The Scarlet Knights responded with their first takeaway of the game as senior FS Courtney Greene (New Rochelle, N.Y.) forced a fumble which was recovered by CB Jason McCourty (Nanuet, N.Y.), giving RU the ball in the Wolfpack  half of the field.

    Teel completed a pair of passes for 42 yards as the Scarlet Knights marched into the red zone and down to the six yard line. Rutgers lined up for a field goal attempt however, freshman Rob Cervini (Suffern, N.Y.) who was inserted into the game as a holder, instead carried the ball into the end zone for the first score of the game. It was Cervini’s first-ever appearance in a collegiate contest. RU missed on its PAT to take a 6-0 lead.

    The Wolfpack took a 10-6 lead in the first quarter with a touchdown pass from QB Russell Wilson, followed by a 33-yard field goal. NC State added seven points in the second quarter to take a 17-6 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

    Wilson, a first team All-ACC selection and conference Rookie of the Year, was knocked out of the game with a leg injury and did not start the second half. On the Wolfpack’s first possession of the third quarter, the Scarlet Knights forced his replacement Harrison Beck into a three-and-out.

    Rutgers then received a big play from its special teams as senior LB Kevin Malast (Manchester, N.J.) blocked NC State’s punt which was recovered on the Wolfpack 16 yard line by senior WR Tiquan Underwood (Lawrenceville, N.J.).

    On the subsequent drive, the Scarlet Knights used three plays for 16 yards to find the end zone with Teel and Underwood hooking up on an 11-yard pass completion to move within one point with the score 17-16.

    In the closing minutes of the third quarter with NC State in the red zone, junior LB Ryan D’Imperio (Sewell, N.J.) recorded his first career interception at the four yard line and returned it 19 yards to swing the momentum back to the Scarlet Knights. RU then regained the lead in the fourth quarter on a 28-yard field goal by freshman PK San San Te (Conover, N.C.) to make it 19-17.

    The seesaw battle continued as the Wolfpack drove 64 yards on eight plays, finding pay dirt on a 16 yard completion from Daniel Evans to Anthony Hill. Evans was the third NC State quarterback to move under center after the Scarlet Knights chased Wilson’s replacement Beck from the game.

    The Wolfpack failed to convert on their two-point conversion as the scoreboard read 23-19. The Scarlet Knight offense responded on its next possession as Jason McCourty broke off a 27-yard return to give RU the ball on its own 35 yard line.

    Teel then used two plays to reach the end zone as he connected on a 23-yard pass to junior WR Dennis Campbell (Plantation, Fla.), followed by a 42-yard TD pass to Britt. Now leading 26-23, Rutgers held on to its advantage as the Scarlet Knights posted its third takeaway of the game on an interception by junior CB Devin McCourty (Nanuet, N.Y.) with 7:00 remaining on the clock.

    Freshman RB Joe Martinek (Hopatcong, N.J.) helped Rutgers chew up the final minutes of the game as the Scarlet Knights orchestrated an 11-play, 61-yard drive which lasted 6:13 and was capped with a 24-yard field goal by Te to put RU ahead 29-23. Martinek carried five times for 27 yards, including a 15-yard face mask penalty while Teel completed four passes for 35 yards on the same drive.

    Rutgers kicked off with 39 seconds remaining in the game but NC State’s final drive was short-lived as Greene intercepted a pass attempt by Evans on third-and-10 to help secure the win.

    The Scarlet Knights hoisted the trophy for the third time in as many seasons behind a balanced effort on both sides of the ball in which the offense recorded 437 yards of total offense and the defense posted four takeaways (17 total over the last six games).

    POSTGAME NOTES

    Team Notes
    Rutgers (8-5, 5-2 BIG EAST) ended the season with its seventh consecutive victory as the Scarlet Knights defeated NC State 29-23 in the PapaJohns.com Bowl Monday afternoon at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. The seven straight victories to close out the season tied for the fourth-longest win streak to end a season in school history.

    Rutgers won a bowl game for the third consecutive season with the 29-23 victory over the Wolfpack. The Scarlet Knights won the 2006 Texas Bowl (37-10 vs. Kansas State) and the 2008 International Bowl (52-30 vs. Ball State). All-time, Rutgers is 3-2 in postseason play.

    For the first time since Nov. 9, 2006 vs. No. 3 Louisville, Rutgers won a game after trailing in the fourth quarter as the Scarlet Knights erased a 23-19 deficit with a 42-yard touchdown pass from senior QB Mike Teel (Oakland, N.J.) to junior WR Kenny Britt (Bayonne, N.J.) for the game-winning score.

    The Scarlet Knights’ senior class played in their fourth consecutive bowl. In all, the 2008 senior class finished with 34 victories, the fourth-best total in school history. Four Scarlet Knights have played in all four bowls – senior FS Courtney Greene (New Rochelle, N.Y.), senior CB Jason McCourty (Nanuet, N.Y.), senior LB Kevin Malast (Manchester, N.J.) and senior DT Pete Tverdov (Union, N.J.).

    For the first time since 1979, Rutgers has recorded at least eight wins for the third consecutive season. From 1975-79, Rutgers posted five consecutive seasons of at least eight victories.

    For the sixth straight game, the Rutgers offense eclipsed the 400-yard mark in total offense. The Scarlet Knights finished with 437 yards of total offense vs. NC State.

    For the first time in 2008, Rutgers won a game after trailing after three quarters of play. Rutgers trailed 17-16 at the end of three quarters, but outscored NC State 13-6 in the fourth quarter for its first fourth quarter rally of the season.

    Player Notes

    Mike Teel was named the MVP of the PapaJohns.com Bowl after finishing the game 22-of-37 passing for 319 yards and two touchdowns.

    Below is a breakdown of Teel’s final statistics and where he ranks in school and BIG EAST history:
    9,383 career passing yards ranks third in BIG EAST history (school record)
    59 career touchdowns – ranks seventh in BIG EAST history (school record)
    661 career completions – ranks second in school history and fourth in BIG EAST history
    1,142 career attempts – ranks second in school history and third in BIG EAST history
    10 300-yard passing games – ties a school record and is the second-most in BIG EAST history
    9,173 yards of total offense ranks sixth in BIG EAST history (school record)

    2008 Single-Season
    3,418 passing yards – ranks third in BIG EAST history (school record)
    25 touchdowns – tied for the seventh-most in BIG EAST history (school record)
    243 completions – ranks second in school history and sixth in BIG EAST history
    396 attempts – ranks third in school history

    With a six-reception, 119-yard receiving performance in the PapaJohns.com Bowl, Kenny Britt became the BIG EAST career receiving yardage leader with 3,043 yards over his 34-game career.

    Britt’s 178 career receptions, which rank third in Rutgers history, are fourth in BIG EAST history.

    Britt’s eighth 100-yard performance of the season (second-most in BIG EAST history) gave him 14 for his career, which tied the BIG EAST record, originally set by Pittsburgh’s Larry Fitzgerald from 2002-03.

    He also has 17 career receiving touchdowns, tied for first in school history with Chris Brantley (1990-93).

    Britt also extended his reception streak to 31 games – the seventh-longest streak in BIG EAST history.

    He finished the season with 1,371 yards on 87 catches and seven touchdowns. His yards and receptions are both school single-season records. The catches and yardage total are both the second-most in BIG EAST single-season history.

    His 114.2 yards per game average was the fourth-best single-season figure in BIG EAST history.

    Courtney Greene started his school-record 51st consecutive game in the PapaJohns.com Bowl. On the first offensive play of the game, Greene forced a fumble which Rutgers recovered and led to a touchdown. Greene also picked off the final pass of the game for the Wolfpack to seal the victory.

    Greene finished his career with 386 tackles (fourth in school history).

    On his first career collegiate play, redshirt freshman Rob Cervini (Suffern, N.Y.) lined up as the holder on a fake field goal attempt and carried the ball six yards for his first career touchdown.

    Junior LB Ryan D’Imperio (Sewell, N.J.) recorded his first career interception vs. NC State. The South Jersey native posted five tackles, three pass breakups, two tackles for loss and one sack.

    Sophomore DE Jonathan Freeny (Margate, Fla.) made his first career start in the PapaJohns.com Bowl. He replaced senior starter Jamaal Westerman (Brampton, Ontario), who is out after undergoing bicep surgery.

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