Saturday, October 20, 2012
Second-half surge lifts Rutgers to 7-0
By Matt Fortuna
Rutgers' brand of football is typically not conducive to blowouts. The Scarlet Knights reached the midpoint of the season unscathed on the backs of a strong ground game and opportunistic defense and special teams.
A double-digit halftime deficit Saturday at Temple surely had some shaking their heads at a program that has consistently stumbled when on the precipice of great things. But Rutgers may truly be different this season under first-year head coach Kyle Flood, a notion it suggested in a Week 4 shootout win at Arkansas and one it supported after its 35-10 win at Temple.
The defense and special teams were there, as always, with Leonte Carroo blocking a Brandon McManus punt early in the fourth quarter and Khaseem Greene later returning a fumble 19 yards for a score.
But Rutgers' offense stepped up again when needed most, with Gary Nova tossing four touchdown passes on a day he completed 17 of 27 passes for 232 yards with just one interception. Four different receivers accounted for the scores, with Jawan Jamison using a nasty move midway in the third quarter for a 32-yard touchdown that put the Scarlet Knights in front for the first time on the day.
Jamison was everywhere on the afternoon, rushing for a game-high 114 yards on 20 carries and adding game highs of five catches and 81 receiving yards. The running back has now rushed for more than 100 yards in six of seven games this season.
Rutgers' offense capitalized throughout the second half. Nova hit Mark Harrison for a 5-yard score in the third quarter after Logan Ryan picked off Chris Coyer, and the Scarlet Knights' signal caller later found D.C. Jefferson for a 10-yard score early in the fourth quarter following the blocked punt.
Temple entered the day riding a two-game winning streak and showed plenty of positive signs early, but the Owls received an up-close measuring stick of what it may take to win the conference this season. Rutgers is only 4-0 in the conference and 7-0 overall, but it learned a little more about itself in a 35-0 second-half rout.