Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
Rutgers defense and a big play strike from Gary Nova to Mark Harrison put the Scarlet Knights up a touchdown after one half in Cincinnati.
It was a defensive struggle in the first half at Nippert Stadium, but Rutgers took a 7-0 lead over the Cincinnati Bearcats into the locker room. The Scarlet Knights' defense has bottled up one of the most potent offensive attacks in the country, impressively pitching a shutout on the road.
The big swing of the first half came on a red zone turnover by Cincinnati and subsequent quick strike touchdown from Gary Nova to Mark Harrison. Bearcats coach Butch Jones tried to hit a home run with quarterback Brendon Kay, but Logan Ryan stepped in and picked him off at the three-yard line. Buried deep in their own territory, it didn't take long for Nova and the Rutgers offense to take advantage of the giveaway.
After setting up the Cincy defense with three straight Savon Huggins rushes, the Scarlet Knights went to the air. It was the perfect change of pace, catching the defense off guard. Harrison went streaking from the right side down the middle of the field, and Nova hit him in stride over the top. Harrison bolted down the center of the field, keeping his feet after a desperation dive by a Bearcats defensive back, and crossed the goal line for the 71-yard touchdown.
Huggins is getting a majority of the carries out of the backfield, as Jawan Jamison is still nursing an ankle injury from last week. Rutgers fed Huggins repeatedly on a long sustained drive before the half, and he carried them deep into Cincinnati territory. Unfortunately, Rutgers came away with no points after Nova was picked off in the end zone trying to force it into the corner. Huggins has 85 yards on 20 (!) carries in the first half.
Rutgers will receive the kickoff to start the second half.