Piscataway- With 39,680 in attendance, the Scarlet Knights seem to have a knack for theatrics week after week keeping the fans on their toes from the start of the game. They figured out New Mexico and beat them 37-28 at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Rutgers maneuvered the game play set by coaches early, by not letting New Mexico drive down the field, not giving up explosive plays and maintaining gap integrity. But Janarion Grant’s fumble on RU’s 19-yard line gave the Lobos their first opportunity to get on the scoreboard. Daryl Chestnut scored a touchdown 19 yards out on a power play and gave New Mexico an early 7-0 lead.
Lightning struck twice for the Lobos on their first drive with 7 plays, 62 yards and 3:26 off the clock. On the second they hustled 2 plays, 59 yards with 43 seconds off the clock. Lamar Jordan was a force to be reckoned with blazing to a 52- yard touchdown and before they could catch their breath, Rutgers was down 21-0 in the first quarter.
The Rutgers’ fans showed no mercy letting the RU team know their displeasure and lack of effort with the crowd booing, trying to ante up the hometown team.
” We did not start the game the way we wanted again. We knew the option was going to give us a little trouble and they added some formation we hadn’t seen in two years of film study. Once our kids settled down we were able to make some plays.” Rutgers head coach Chris Ash said.
On the ensuing drive, Scarlet Knights quarterback Chris Laviano hit Jawuan Harris in stride for a 75-yard touchdown which brought the crowd to their feet. That was the spark that RU needed to self start their stagnant offense.
Laviano threw for 11-27, 152 yards, and a touchdown. The Knights amassed 350 yards from the line of scrimmage overall after being outgained by New Mexico, 279-262, in the first half.
“There was no panic in us at today. We knew if we kept it close we could make a game of it. We just had to remain disciplined.” Said Rutgers Coach Jay Niemann
Even with the slow start in the first half the Knights managed to take a 28-21 lead into half time, scoring the drive with Janarion Grant hitting Andre Patton on a 21-yard reverse pass and Robert Martin breaking an 80-yard run up the middle to paydirt. That was all Rutgers needed to turn the game around.
Robert Martin was the headliner of this story, finishing the game with 21 carries and 170 yards. Martin gave the Knights the tough yards they needed in between the tackles and on the edges.
A couple of dead on field goals by David Bonagura of 41 and 33 yards sealed the win for the (2-1) Scarlet Knights.
The Knights played a physical brand of defense lead by Julian Pinnix-Odrick with 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for lost and Darius Hamilton 10 tackles and 1 tackle for lost. These dynamic duos wreaked havoc in the Lobos backfield throughout the game.
The Iowa Hawkeyes will be traveling to High Point Solutions Stadium next week to play the Scarlet Knights for their B10 opener. The game will be televised on ESP2 with 12-noon start time.