PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Despite a 142-yard rushing effort from Heisman Trophy candidate Ray Rice (New Rochelle, N.Y.), the No. 25-ranked Scarlet Knights suffered a 31-3 loss to No. 6 West Virginia Saturday afternoon at a rain-soaked Rutgers Stadium. WVU running back Steve Slaton and quarterback Pat White combined for four scores as the Mountaineers earned the victory before the venue's ninth straight sell out crowd and a national television audience.
Rutgers (5-3, 2-2) took the field dressed in all black uniforms looking to capture consecutive wins over ranked opponents for the first time in school history. The poor weather, however, did little to enable the charged environment from which the Scarlet Knights fed in their win over No. 2 South Florida. Rutgers entered the game having scored on 26 of its 27 trips inside the 20, but came away empty on two trips inside the red zone versus the Mountaineers.
Joe Lefeged just misses sacking WVU QB Pat White. Photo by Jim O'Connor/NJ Sport Pics
"It's very obvious the things we didn't do today," said Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. "We didn't tackle well and we didn't catch the football. We dropped too many passes to count, and some of them were touchdowns. We dropped three touchdown passes. Are they tough catches, some of them are, but they are catches we need to make. Tackling just wasn't Rutgers-like."
The Scarlet Knights also committed four turnovers in the contest, while the visitors did not lose a single miscue. West Virginia (7-1, 2-1) scored 14 points off Rutgers turnovers.
"The positives for the game were that not one player stopped playing their very hardest," said Schiano. That's how we want to play when things are going against us."
Rice made school history on the game's first offensive play. A two-yard gain up the middle, the carry provided him 1,001 yards on the year, making the junior the first Scarlet Knight to ever exceed the century mark in three seasons. The rush would also be the first of 16 carries for 63 yards by Rice in the initial stanza.
West Virginia posted the contest's first points. Facing a first-and-10 at RU 38, Slaton changed fields on the slick surface and raced right. With the Scarlet Knights attempting to recover from their initial pursuit, he raced into the end zone with the aid of some opportunistic downfield blocking provided by his receivers. The score capped a six play, 63-yard drive and provided the Mountaineers a 7-0 advantage with 4:33 remaining in the opening quarter.
WVU would extend its lead to two touchdowns courtesy of a special teams' misfortune that befell the Scarlet Knights. After forcing the Mountaineers backwards after they advanced to the home 32, Rutgers was poised to field a punt. The kick, however, deflected off the back of Ramy Nubani (Upper St. Clair, Pa.), who was running toward his return men to provide blocking on the anticipated return. West Virginia recovered at the RU 31. Five plays later, the visitors held a 14-0 advantage after one yard touchdown run by White.
The reliable leg of Jeremy Ito (Loma Linda, Calif.) enabled the Scarlet Knights to light the scoreboard. Named the Lou Groza Star of the Week for his three field goal performance versus USF, Ito split the uprights from 39 yards with 4:39 remaining in the second quarter. The kick culminated an 11-play, 45-yard drive and marked the 70th field goal of his career. He became one of just 19 players in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history to record 70 field goals.
A 42-yard field goal by Pat McAfee as the clock expired sent the Scarlet Knights to the locker room at the midpoint facing a 17-3 deficit. The kick concluded an 11-play, 60-yard effort and was the third score for the visitors in five first half possessions.
The rain, which was steady and driving, subsided prior to the start of the second half. Rutgers was in receipt of the half's initial possession and drove into the red zone for the first time, to the WVU 14. A holding penalty, however, sent the home squad backward, where it was forced to settle for a 41-yard field goal attempt. The try, however, was wide right.
With the miss, the Mountaineers re-gained possession and drove downfield in purposeful fashion. A one-yard Slaton touchdown run capped a nine play, 75-yard drive that consumed just 3:18 off the clock. The junior's second scoring jaunt placed the Scarlet Knights in a deep, 24-3, hole with 3:59 remaining in the third quarter.
West Virginia. closed out the scoring on a seven play, 66-yard drive that was 3:04 in length. Each of the Mountaineers' four touchdown drives consumed 3:18 or less of the game clock.
The Scarlet Knights return to the gridiron next Saturday (Nov. 3) evening at Connecticut in a 7:15 p.m. kick-off at Rentschler Field. The game will be televised live on ESPNU.
Source Press release