WEST POINT, NY-- The Rutgers Scarlet Knights defeated the Army Black Knights 36-21, improving to 2-1 on the season. The Scarlet Knights broke out to a 20-0 start, before holding off a late Army rush to pull out the victory. Quarterback Ryan Hart (Coral Springs, FL) led the Scarlet Knights with 250 yards on 17-of-26 passing, including three touchdowns.
Brian Leonard (Gouverneur, NY) led the Scarlet Knights on the ground with 132 yards rushing on 16 carries, including a 61-yard scamper with less than a minute to play, sealing the victory. Leonard also caught two passes for 38 yards. “They put me in different positions, so I can help the team,” said Leonard. “Whatever they want me to do I’ll do.”
Rutgers got out to a fast start on defense, as the linebacking tandem of Brian Bender (Shenendoah, PA) and William Gilkison (Union Beach, NJ) combined for the Scarlet Knights’ first touchdown. With the Black Knights backed up against their own goal line, Gilkison and Bender came on the linebacker blitz, colliding with Army quarterback Zac Dahman and forcing the fumble. Bender alertly pounced on the ball in the end zone for the touchdown and the first score of the game. Gilkison was credited with the sack and fumble, as Rutgers took a 7-0 lead.
Rutgers added another score before the half, as Hart combined with Jerry Andre ( Hialeah, FL) for a 39-yard touchdown, giving the Scarlet Knights a 13-0 lead at the half. Andre finished the game with three catches for 51 yards.
Junior wide-receiver Tres Moses (Delray Beach, FL) continued his impressive season with four catches for 40 yards, including two touchdown receptions. Moses, who missed the majority of last season after suffering an injury returning a punt versus Army, had a scare in this contest when a Black Knight defender rolled over his ankle trying to make a tackle. Moses was able to shake it off , as he came back into the game and proved to be a lift for the Scarlet Knight offense. Moses now has four touchdowns on the season to lead the talented Rutgers receiving corps.
Shawn Tucker (Parkland, FL) led Rutgers with 67 yards receiving on four catches. Tucker, who leads the Scarlet Knights with 229 yards receiving on the season, was one of seven receivers to catch a pass for Rutgers. The sophomore has already surpassed his yardage total from last year’s impressive freshman campaign.
Rutgers amassed 427 yards of offense, including 250 in the air. This is the third-straight game that Hart has passed for over 200 yards. The Scarlet Knights added 177 on the ground, the second time this season they have rushed for over 175 yards in a game.
All-American cornerback Nate Jones led the defense for Rutgers. Jones played extremely well in the defensive backfield, breaking up several passes and recording his first interception of the season.
The Black Knights threatened late, scoring two fourth quarter touchdowns, but Rutgers answered back with Leonard’s game-sealing run. The victory marks the seventh time in nine contests that the Scarlet Knights have defeated Army.
Rutgers returns to action on Saturday, September 27, when it hosts Navy. Rutgers will prepare for the Midshipmen with an off week next Saturday.
Rutgers vs. Army Post-Game Notes
Seven of Nine vs. The Black Knights
Rutgers improved to 15-18 vs. Army with the win, including seven of the last nine meetings between the two schools. It is the third-straight win vs. Army (2 at Rutgers, 1 at Army) and the first win at Michie Stadium since 1993 - a 45-38 victory over the Black Knights.
Streak Comes to an End
Center Marty Pyszczymuka did not start at center today, ending a streak of 14-consecutive starts for the senior. He started all 12 last season and both games in 2003, with his last non-start coming in the 2001 season finale vs. California. Overall, Pyszczymuka has started 24 of the last 26 games in which he has been active, dating back to the start of the 2001 season.
Bender Recovers Fumble for TD
Rutgers' first score of the game came on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Brian Leonard, following a sack and forced fumble by Will Gilkison. The fumble recovery was the fourth of Bender's career, but the first for a touchdown. The last time Rutgers recovered a fumble for a touchdown was on September 23, 2000 ' when cornerback Wes Lysack recovered a fumble for a TD.
The last time Rutgers played at Michie Stadium (10/18/97), Tarell Freeney returned a fumble 10 yards for a touchdown in a 37-35 loss to the Black Knights.
Back-to-Back Defensive Touchdowns
Bender's fumble recovery for a TD marked the second-straight game in which RU has scored a touchdown on defense. The last time Rutgers scored on defense in back-to-back games was in 1994 ' the first two games. On 9/3/94, Curtis Tribitt returned a INT 60 yards for a score in a 28-6 win over Kent State and on 9/10/94, Alcides Catanho ran back an INT 24 yards for a score in a 17-12 win over West Virginia.
A Pair of Career Highs
Markis Facyson's 39-yard reception in the first quarter was the longest of his career and, on one catch, he matched his single-season best from 2002, when he amassed 39 receiving yards on three catches. In the final minutes of the second quarter, Jerry Andre hauled in a 39-yard TD pass from Hart, four yards greater than his previous long catch of 35 yards (10/19/02 vs. Virginia Tech). It was also Andre's first career TD reception.
Rutgers posted eight-straight scoreless quarters against the Black Knights before a TD in the third quarter, dating back to the 1998 contest between the two schools. In 1998, Army scored 15 points in the second quarter in a 27-15 loss and then failed to score in last season's 44-0 loss at Rutgers.
2-1 Start is Best Since '00
With a win today, Rutgers improved to 2-1, the first time it has owned a 2-1 mark since the 2000 season, when RU opened with back-to-back wins over Villanova (34-21) and Buffalo (59-0) before falling to Virginia Tech (49-0) en route to a 3-8 record.
Hart Goes Over 200 Yards for Third Straight Game - First Time since McMahon
in '99 After throwing for 155 yards as a season-high in 2002, Ryan Hart has
thrown for over 200 yards in the first three games of the 2003 season.
Hart threw for 225 in the season opener vs. Buffalo and 266 vs. Michigan State last Saturday. The last quarterback to throw for over 200 yards in three-straight was Mike McMahon (now with the Detroit Lions), who accomplished the feat in 1999. McMahon threw for 255 vs. Texas (9/11), 228 vs. Boston College (9/25) and 256 vs. Wake Forest (10/2). Rutgers was 0-3 in those games.
Leonard Has Longest Runs
Last week, Brian Leonard broke off Rutgers' longest run, gaining 15 yards on a carry vs. Michigan State. This week, Leonard had gains of 18, 23 and 61 yards, finishing with 132 rushing yards. He also became the fifth member of the Scarlet Knights roster to rush for over 100 yards in a game, joining Marcus Jones, Clarence Pittman, Jason Nugent and Markis Facyson.