PISCATAWAY, NJ – Rutgers built a 21-0 second-quarter lead and held on to win its season opener, defeating Buffalo 24-10 Aug. 30 at Rutgers Stadium.
Junior wide receiver Tres Moses (Delray Beach, FL) put on a one-man show in the first 15 minutes, returning a punt 66 yards for RU’s first score, then hauling in a 15-yard pass for a second touchdown to stake Rutgers to a 14-0 lead with 0:55 remaining in the first period. It was a triumphant return for Moses, who was making his first appearance in a game since Week Three of the 2002 season, when he suffered a knee injury returning a punt against Army.
Freshman Justise Hairston (New Britain, CT) made his own mark in his first collegiate game, punching the ball into the end zone from six yards out to make the score 21-0 with less than four minutes to play in the first half, giving Rutgers its largest halftime lead in almost three years (Sept. 9, 2000; 31-0; Buffalo).
The Bulls came out of the locker room and scored 10 unanswered points in the third quarter, cutting RU’s lead to 21-10. However, the Scarlet Knights answered with a 20-yard Ryan Sands (Shenendoah, PA) field goal late in the fourth quarter, sealing the victory.
Sophomore Ryan Hart (Coral Springs, FL) had his best game as a Scarlet Knight, establishing new career bests for completions (21), attempts (21), and passing yardage (225). Hairston (19 carries, 88 yards) and junior Clarence Pittman (Miami, FL) (15 carries, 72 yards) both were impressive in the backfield, while Moses led eight Scarlet Knight receivers with 47 yards. The Rutgers offense tallied 406 total yards, the most for the Knights since rolling up 533 in a 23-17 win against Navy (Oct. 20, 2001).
Hart spread his 225 passing yards around, connecting with eight different receivers tonight in the first half alone. Moses (five catches, 47 yards) and Brian Leonard (five catches, 37 yards) were his main targets, while Shawn Tucker and Clark Harris each caught three passes.
The Rutgers defense was led by senior Nate Jones (Scotch Plains, NJ), who had a team-high nine tackles along with one pass break-up, and senior Raheem Orr (Elizabeth, NJ), who contributed eight tackles, three for a loss, one pass break-up and 1.5 sacks. Sophomore Joe Radigan (Hoboken, NJ), in his first college game, averaged 45.4 yards on five punts.
The Scarlet Knights will next be in action Saturday, Sept. 6, when they play at Michigan State. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., and the game can be seen live on the YES Network. GAME STATSPost-Game Notes
Fourteen Players See First Collegiate Action
In the first offensive and defensive series alone, eight new players made their way onto the field for the Scarlet Knights - including three starters (Leonard, Durango, Beckford).
DeVraun Thompson Special Teams - KO
Joe Porter Special Teams - KO
Brian Leonard Fullback
Clark Harris Tight End
Joe Radigan Punter
Willie Foster Wide Receiver
William Beckford Linebacker
Bryan Durango Safety
Derek Roberson Special Teams -- Punt
David Harley Defensive Line
Justise Hairston Running Back
Marcus Daniels Wide Receiver
Ramel Meekins Defensive Line
Sam Johnson Extra-Point Protection
Moses Punt Return for TD is First Since '92
Tres Moses' 66-yard punt return for a touchdown to open the scoring in tonight's game was the first punt returned for a touchdown since Sept. 12, 1992, vs. Colgate - a span of 120 games. On that date, Marshall Roberts returned a punt 85 yards for a TD vs. Colgate in a 41-0 RU win. (The punt return for a TD is also the first at the "new" Rutgers Stadium - a span of 53 games.) The punt was also Moses' first since suffering an injury while returning a punt on Sept. 14 vs. Army last season for 35 yards - an injury which ended his 2002 season.
Here are some of the career firsts for those who saw their first collegiate action tonight:
Radigan - 42-yard punt
Beckford - First tackle of the game
Leonard - five-yard rush
Harris - 22-yard reception (4:24, 1st)
Hairston - nine-yard gain (3:45, 1st)
Hutchinson - Sack (9:10, 2nd, third play of the game, second on defense)
Harley - Forced Fumble/Fumble Recovery (12:44, 4th)
80-Yard Drive Ties 2002 High; 91-Yarder Matches '01 Best
Rutgers' 80-yard scoring drive in the opening quarter, which ended in a 15-yard pass from Ryan Hart to Tres Moses, tied the 2002 season high, which was accomplished three times (vs. Army, Tennessee and Miami). The most recent drive of more than 80 yards took place in the 2001 season finale vs. California, when Ryan Cubit connected with LJ Smith on a 15-yard TD pass, completing an 83-yard drive. The 91-yard drive in the second quarter, ending in a six-yard TD carry by Justise Hairston, matched a 91-yard drive vs. West Virginia on Nov. 3, 2001 - 17 games ago. That drive, which lasted 17 plays, ended with a three-yard TD run by then-freshman Marcus Jones.
Halftime Margin Best Since Sept. 9, 2000
Rutgers' 21-0 lead at the half today was its best since a 31-0 halftime lead over Buffalo on Sept. 9, 2002 - a span of 34 games. Rutgers led Army, 17-0, at the half last season (Sept. 14) en route to a 44-0 win.
Hart Wastes Little Time Setting New Career High
Sophomore QB Ryan Hart's 27-yard completion to Shawn Tucker at the end of the first half improved his game total to 165 yards - besting his previous career high of 155 yards passing vs. Temple last season (11/14/02). Hart finished the game with career highs in yards (225), attempts (31) and completions (21).
Spreading the Wealth
In the first half alone, Rutgers' QB Ryan Hart connected with eight different receivers on 14 total completions. Hart ended the first half 14-for-19 for 165 yards and one TD, hitting Brian Leonard four times and three others (Clark Harris, Jerry Andre and Tres Moses) on two occasions. Last season, nine different receivers caught passes for Rutgers in two games - vs. Buffalo and vs. Army.
400 Yards of Total Offense
For the third time in the Greg Schiano era, Rutgers has amassed at least 400 yards of total offense in a single game. It is the most yards gained since the Knights rolled up 533 in a 23-17 defeat of Navy on October 20, 2001. The other 400+ outing was during a 24-17 loss to Syracuse on October 6, 2001.
Box Score (Final) Buffalo vs Rutgers (Aug 30, 2003 at Piscatway, NJ) Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score ----------------- -- -- -- -- ----- Buffalo............. 0 0 10 0 - 10 Rutgers............. 14 7 0 3 - 24 BUFFALO RUTGERS FIRST DOWNS................... 17 23 RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 41-232 43-181 PASSING YDS (NET)............. 60 225 Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 21-7-0 31-21-0 TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 62-292 74-406 Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0 Punt Returns-Yards............ 2-17 3-89 Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 5-85 3-33 Interception Returns-Yards.... 0-0 0-0 Punts (Number-Avg)............ 8-38.1 5-45.4 Fumbles-Lost.................. 1-1 0-0 Penalties-Yards............... 3-25 6-60 Possession Time............... 25:32 34:28 Third-Down Conversions........ 3 of 13 5 of 14 Fourth-Down Conversions....... 0 of 0 1 of 1 Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 1-2 3-4 Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 0-0 2-17
POST GAME QUOTES
RUTGERS HEAD COACH GREG SCHIANO
This is a big victory for our team. This team needed a victory. It is
a good start to a 12 game season. I think our guys played with great
resolve. I think there are two things that stood out in this game. Number one, although we are young in so many spots defensively the kids
fought and fought and fought. Offensively I thought we did a lot of good things. We protected the passer well. But the single biggest
thing – when we needed to run the football at the end of the game– since I’ve been here – we were able to do it. It was no secret what we
were doing. I really am proud of the kids for doing that. It is something they’ve been working on and really taking pride in.
(re: Moses punt return) – Every coach in the country makes an emphasis
that in the first game of the season, more than any single thing, the
kicking game can really have a factor in the early season games. It certainly got us off, got the crowd into it, and got everybody
cooking. That is something we missed last year without Tres due to injury. I look forward to seeing those kinds of things from Tres all
(re: running game): Best feeling I’ve had since I’ve been here.
was relatively the same play over and over again. It’s a team effort.
The offensive line firing out…Justice (Hairston) and (Clarence) Pittman running hard…I was so proud of both of those kids being unselfish.
When one was in, the other was cheering, and it was outstanding. That’s the thing that really pleased me.
We are clearly better than we were. We still have a long way to go,
but when we needed to, we were able to run the football and that’s
important.(re: winning game) It’s a big relief. It’s a big excitement level for this team. Coming off of last year, we needed to win a game. The
feeling in that locker room we haven’t had very much. When you have a young team, and they can have a little success, they need to taste it.
One of the premises of this offense is that the same run that gets one
or two in the first quarter, gets four or six in the fourth quarter.
You tire them out. When you can run the football, and you have strong backs, it’s hard to get off of blocks and make tackles when you are
Tres Moses, Jr., WR
On the punt return:
“ Well I kind of saw everyone shifting to the right and the return was meant to go to the middle, but I faked everyone out and just took it up
the middle and the went around to the sideline.”
“I saw his leverage was going one way so I just used it against him and went the opposite way
On the touchdown reception:
“ It was a drive route coming in the middle and Ryan and I just saw each other and the pass was there and I was in the right spot.”
On the new offense:
“ It’s a little different, but everyone has their own style. We worked on it all off-season and we’re just trying to get it going.”
Ryan Hart, So., QB
“It’s exciting and I can’t say how proud I am right now and I’m just so happy right now for our team. I think everyone did a great job today
and I’m really proud of my offensive line. They played their best. We have a positive attitude going into next week.”
On protecting the lead with the running game:
“ That’s something we haven’t had here at Rutgers when you can just milk the clock by running. All you have to do is run the offense as a
quarterback and let everyone else play football. It was awesome to see us run the football today.”
On his game:
“ I think we had a good offensive scheme and I just executed what Coach “V” [Ver Steeg] was telling me about. There were a few passes I
would like to have back but I wasn’t perfect. I’m just glad that we won and I’m not worried about my stats and I’m not worried about how
many touchdowns I had. I’m just glad that we won. We’re going in the right direction at Rutgers and I’m happy for our team.”
Clarence Pittman, Jr., RB
“ We did some great things tonight. Our offensive line has some big guys and they made some big holes for us.”
“All of the running backs on this team are cheering for each other.
don’t like to call it a rivalry. We’re really working positively
pushing each other to get better and better.”
“I don’t think this was my best game, but I felt I was able to
really good things tonight. This team is going to get stronger and
stronger. We’ve overcome a lot since last year. There just seems to be a different atmosphere this year. We’re all very happy with how
everything is going. What is most important is that we’re a team and striving to improve each and every week.”
Justise Hairston, Fr., RB
“ It was huge momentum boost when we pounded the clock down at the end of the game. The seven consecutive rushing plays by our team gave us so
much confidence. Our offensive line knows what they’re doing and they’re very confident. We all executed tonight and played sound
“I was extremely excited about my first college touchdown tonight. But I made sure I regained my focus for the rest of the game.”
“Although we need to iron some things out, I feel good about this team. Our running game is very solid. The six of us running backs like to call each other “The Horsemen”. We’re all supporting each other and making sure we get the job done.”
Nate Jones, Sr., DB
“ Our defense did a good job tonight. I definitely sense a difference already. I just felt good out there tonight and for the most part, we were running on all cylinders.”
“We had to make some adjustments with Buffalo’s offense, but we were able to execute when we had to. It was also great to see our offense run the clock out like they did at the end of the game. We accomplished our goal tonight by winning this game and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”