Piscataway, NJ— It was a game of two halves. UMass raced out to a quick 14-0 lead, looking for an upset in coach Walt Bell’s debut. The Minutemen marched down the field on their opening 75-yard drive that ended in 20-yard dart from Randall West to a wide-open Kyle Horn on seem route. McLane Carter threw an interception on the Scarlet Knights’ first possession. Cam Roberson ran 39-yards on a power play for a touchdown two plays later.
Senior quarterback McLane Carter totaled 340 passing yards, throwing two touchdowns. Overall, Carter was 21-for-31 in his first start at the helm.
Carter, a Texas Tech graduate transfer, quickly regained his composure and got the Rutgers offense in gear after the turnover.
Rutgers pulled out a 48-21 win over a pesky UMass team Friday night at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey.
“When we got down 14-0 with the fans into the game the way they were, obviously it keeps our team energized, and we continue to play hard and came back because of that. So fans were great. Student section was awesome.” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said.
The talented duo of Isaih Pacheco and Raheem Blackshear played big roles in the comeback, with Isaih breaking down the opponent’s defense interior with his rushing between the tackles and Raheem making plays catching the ball out the backfield. They combined for 321 yards from scrimmage, five touchdowns, with each scoring from at least 30 yards out.
After a couple of TD runs by Isaih Pacheco to get Rutgers going, Carter threw two second-quarter touchdowns. Carter’s first TD pass was to wide-out Bo Melton, who finished the game with six catches for 127 yards.
The Scarlet Knights would go on to take its first lead of the game at 24-21 after a Justin Davidovicz 27-yard field goal with 4:04 left on the clock in the second quarter.
Carter’s second touchdown was a 28-yard laser to Raheem Blackshear to make it 31-21 before Pacheco’s third score of the first half put Rutgers up 38-21 at the break. Blackshear had a very productive day for the Scarlet Knights, with nine catches for 126 yards to go along with 12 rushes for 39 yards.
“What I really liked, though, is the attitude of the players. They are happy that we won, but not satisfied with the way that we played in some areas. Some of them are really impressive but others we’ve got to get cleaned up.” Ash said.
After giving up 164 yards in the first quarter, Rutgers defense made some adjustments even inserting Drew Singleton at the weak side linebacker position to clean things up, allowing just 307 total yards.
Pacheco scored his fourth touchdown — a 7-yard run — to complete the scoring early in the fourth quarter and put the game away.
Rutgers travels to Iowa for its first road matchup of the year on Saturday, Sept. 7. Kickoff is set for noon ET on FS1.
- Rutgers is 9-1 in its last 10 home openers, holding a positive point differential of 341-110.
- Rutgers improved to 77-64-9 all-time in season openers and 99-39-10 in home openers.
- Rutgers has now won three-straight games over Massachusetts to take a 3-2 all-time series lead. Friday marked the first meeting since 1978.
- Rutgers totaled 554 yards of total offense, the most under head coach Chris Ash and most in a season opener since collecting 563 versus Buffalo in 2007. It was the most in any game since picking up 596 at Indiana in 2015. That game was also the last time the Scarlet Knights had at least 300 passing yards and 200 rushing yards in a game.
- Rutgers scored 38 points in the first half, its most in a half since having that amount in the second half versus Howard in 2016 and the most in a first half versus an FBS opponent since racking up 49 versus Louisville in 2008.
- Rutgers improved to 7-2 under head coach Chris Ash when leading at halftime and when scoring 20 or more points in a game.
- Rutgers punted only once for the first time since playing Norfolk State in 2015.
- Rutgers scored the last 41 points of the game, registering that many unanswered last since 2017 versus Norfolk State in a 65-0 victory.
- Opponents have had one sack or less against Rutgers in 17 of the last 25 games.
- Both Raheem Blackshear and WR Bo Melton had over 100 receiving yards, making it the first time Rutgers had multiple players top the century mark in the category since having three do so at Maryland in 2014.
- Rutgers began a season on a Friday for the sixth time in program history.
- The last Rutgers game in August was a 41-38 win over Washington State in Seattle on Aug. 28, 2014.