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Rutgers Football: Scarlet Knights Defense Key In Upset Over Pittsburgh

The Rutgers University football program used a spectacular four-touchdown second-half performance Saturday to beat the University of Pittsburgh, 34-10, in a Big East Conference game at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, NJ. True freshman quarterback Gary Nova tossed for two TDs, while freshman running back Savon Huggins ran for another, but it was the Rutgers' defense that sparked the offense in the Scarlet Knights third straight victory. Rutgers is 4-1 overall.

Rutgers defense collected four interceptions, three off of Pittsburgh senior quarterback Tino Sunseri, and one was returned by sophomore corner back Logan Ryan for a 45-yard TD, which capped the game's scoring with 6:06 to go in the fourth quarter. The Scarlet Knights also collected six sacks, 2.5 from senior defensive tackle Justin Francis.

"It was a total defense thing," said Francis after the game. "My defense, they have my back. I got to have my defense back there. It showed on the field. We played fast, we played violent, we had fun and it showed."

Despite the game-opening drive, which lead to a 29-yard field goal by Pittsburgh senior kicker Kevin Harper, the Scarlet Knights defense didn't allow the Panthers to get out of their own territory in the first half. The second half featured only two trips inside Rutgers territory for Pitt, and only one of those drives led to points -- a three-yard plunge by junior tailback Ray Graham.

All game long, the Scarlet Knight defense gave its offense great field position, which led to Rutgers dominating in time of possession, 34:57 to 25:03. Rutgers also held Pitt to only 2-of-14 on third-down conversions.

Last week, in a 19-16 victory over Syracuse University, the Rutgers defense was just as effective. The Scarlet Knights held the Orange offense to just three field goals -- SU's lone TD came on the defensive side -- and forced five turnovers. The final turnover came in double overtime and ended the game. In five games, the defense has forced 24 turnovers.