Rutgers improved to 8-1 on Saturday, but it didn't come easy against Army.
A ranked and heavily favored Rutgers team held on to defeat Army, 28-7, and improve to 8-1 on Saturday afternoon at High Point Solutions Stadium. The Scarlet Knights were rested and coming off a bye, and it was expected that they would pounce all over the Black Knights. They had to wait two weeks to take out their frustrations from their first loss of the season, but instead it was Army that took it to the favorites early.
After a sluggish first half, Rutgers finally took their first lead of the game with less than nine minutes to play in the game. Gary Nova didn't have a lot of opportunities, but he was on target almost every time he dropped back. Nova gave Rutgers a 14-7 lead when he dropped a perfect fade pass to the right corner of the end zone. Brandon Coleman hauled it in for the 31-yard score and Rutgers would never relinquish the lead.
Nova finished the game 14 of 17 for 123 yards and the touchdown. The Scarlet Knights' first score came through the air, but it was running back Jawan Jamison who found Coleman on a halfback pass. Jamison was the lone bright spot for Rutgers in the first half, and he fired an accurate strike to Coleman to make his coaches' attempt at trickery pay off. He injured his leg in the second half but his work over the first 30 minutes kept Rutgers close.
Army entered the game with the top-ranked rush offense in the country, constantly pounding the ball on the ground with their option attack. Quarterback Trent Steelman and the Black Knights kept the ball away from Rutgers for most of the first three quarters, but they continually failed to come away with points on several key opportunities. Steelman marched the offense down the field on a 16-play drive, putting seven points on the board on their opening possession. But the Black Knights would fumble inside the Rutgers 15 yard-line and have two field goals blocked in the first half. The squandered scoring chances were too much to overcome.
The Scarlet Knights added two late touchdowns, but the game was much closer than it looked. A snap over the head of the punter and a fumble return for a touchdown provided the backdoor cover.
Box Score Hero: Brandon Coleman finished with only three catches, but he made them count. The wideout had 53 yards receiving and Rutgers only two offensive touchdowns.
Rankings Ramifications: Rutgers will stay in the top 25 in both polls, and could have an opportunity to move out of the 20s and into the teens. They're No. 20 in the Coaches Poll and No. 24 in the AP poll.
But Did They Cover? Rutgers covered the 17-point spread with a fumble return for a touchdown in the final minute of the game.
Next Week's Schedule: Rutgers travels to Cincinnati for a crucial Big East clash. Army will host Temple at West Point.