Piscataway, N.J. – The Scarlet Knight football team opened the 2021 season with a 61-14 victory over Temple on Saturday afternoon in front of 52,519 fans at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey.
This game was more than just the numbers on the scoreboard, but who will undoubtedly control the recruitment trail on I95. Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano knows that as well.
Coach Schiano is a Jersey guy so he knows the law of the land very well, if Rutgers is going to be successful in the coming years, the Scarlet Knights will have to find a way to keep their New Jersey prospects coming to the Banks of the Raritan.
Schiano started laying down that foundation by keeping Bergen Catholic Nunzio Campanile on staff and plucking St. Joseph Regional High School head coach Augie Hoffman to coach the running backs. Both coaches have stellar reputations in the Garden State with a winning pedigree and producing viable product on and off the field.
The Scarlet Knights have 20 returning starters (11 offense, 9 defense) from last season in addition to the starting punter, kicker, and longer snapper back to solidify the special teams unit.
Rutgers 5th year senior quarterback Noah Vedral went 15-for-27 for 138 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown dart. Vedral, also led the team with a career-high 71 rushing yards, while backup quarterback Johnny Langan banged in two rushing touchdowns in the first half. Kyle Monagai got into the party with his (first two collegiate touchdowns), Isaih Pacheco and Aaron Young both contributed to the team’s six rushing touchdowns.
Aron Cruickshank returned four kicks for 113 yards and two punts for 55 yards, carried it three times for 24 yards and caught one pass for 14.
Scarlet Knight punter Adam Korsak pinned the Owls at its own 1-yard line on a 56-yard punt, linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi sacked D’Wan Mathis in the end zone to give RU a 2-0 lead just over three minutes into the contest. Cruickshank had a 57-yard return on the free kick to set up a 25-yard field goal by Valentino Ambrosio for a quick 5-0 lead.
Late in the first quarter, Scarlet Knights cornerback Tre Avery intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 20 yards to the Temple 2-yard line. Langan barreled in on the next play for a 12-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Jamier Wright-Collins caused De’Von Fox to fumble, setting up another Langan touchdown and 19-0 lead.
Fatukasi caused a fumble on a 3rd and 6 to put the Scarlet Knights on Temple’s 22-yard line and Monangai scored his first collegiate touchdown for 26-0.
The Owls got their first points on the board with an 11-yard touchdown run by running back Edward Saydee, set up by a 38-yard go route pass from Mathis to wide receiver Jose Baron.
Mathis scored on a quarterback draw from 3-yards out to make it 26-14 after the first drive of the third quarter. After the drive, Mathis went to the medical tent to get his left ankle taped, and left the game shortly after, going 8-of-24 for 148 yards and an interception.
“When they came out and scored to start the second half — I’ve been doing this a long time and I knew that was a pivotal time for this football team to see what we did,” Schiano said. “Were we going to take the momentum of this game or was this going to go down to the end and be decided by a field goal?”
Rutgers would keep their composure and chop.
Senior wide receiver Bo Melton caught a short pass for 40 yards and took it to the house to give the Scarlet Knights a 33-14 lead. Melton’s brother, Max picked off Justin Lynch on the ensuing possession and return it 46 yards for a touchdown.
“That was crazy,” Bo said. “That was my moment. I really don’t care about my touchdown. I really care about his more just because I know the hard work that we put in going against each other every single day, and to see the hard work pay off. ”
Rutgers improved to 9-4 in season openers and 8-5 in home openers under head coach Greg Schiano. The Scarlet Knights are now 100-40-10 all-time in home openers and 79-64-9 in season openers.
Rutgers won for the 10th time in the last 13 games against a non-conference opponent at home under Schiano, improving to 25-10. The Scarlet Knights moved to 41-19 in non-conference games led by Schiano overall.
Rutgers defeated Temple for the fifth straight time and now leads the series, 22-15.
Rutgers scored at least 50 points for the sixth time under Schiano and reached 60 for the second time.
The 61 points mark the most for Rutgers in a season opener versus an FBS opponent. It was the most points against an FBS opponent overall since posting 63 versus Louisville in 2008. Also the largest margin of victory over an FBS opponent since the 2008 Louisville win.
Schiano earned his 72nd victory leading the Scarlet Knights, one shy of tying John Bateman for third-most in program history. Frank Burns holds the school record with 78 career wins.
Rutgers improved to 53-27 when scoring first under Schiano and 52-19 when leading at halftime.
Rutgers scored six rushing touchdowns against Temple, the most rushing touchdowns against an FBS opponent in the Schiano era.
Temple finished the game with just 261 total yards and five turnovers.
“It was bad as we could possibly play,” Temple coach Rod Carey said. “Five turnovers on the day. Spotted them 26 and climbed our way back into it and gave up some more on some easy stuff. Not anything positive out of that in all three phases and got to get back to work and fix them.”
Playing in front of fans for the first time since his highly anticipated return to SHI Stadium in December of 2019, things didn’t go as planned for Schiano. He led his team down the tunnel, turned right and fell to the field turf after colliding with a cameraperson. So right now the only thing Schiano has to work on is his entrance game.