Rutgers, Rutgers Football, RFootball
Photo Credit: Ben Solomon (Rutgers Athletics)

Rutgers beats Boston College in season opener

Just when all hope looked lost, Scarlet Knights' sophomore running back Al-Shadee Salaam ripped off back-to-back rushes of over 20 yards to put Rutgers in the lead with under three minutes remaining in the final quarter. It capped off a 12 play, 96-yard drive that took just over five minutes.

Rutgers (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten Conference) defeated Boston College University (0-1, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) 22-21 on Saturday afternoon in Newton, Massachusetts, giving the Scarlet Knights their fifth consecutive week one victory.

The Scarlet Knights used both Gavin Wismatt and Evan Simon at quarterback in the contest. Wismatt finished 5/9 with 47 passing yards and an interception, while adding another 40 yards on the ground. Simon logged 63 passing yards on eight completions. It was unclear who would start at quarterback leading up to the game.

Perhaps the biggest development in the contest, was the effort from the Scarlet Knights front seven, who were burned on the ground by opposing teams last year. Rutgers' defense allowed just 29 total rushing yards on 28 carries by Boston College. Pat Garwo III, who ran for over 1,000 yards for the Eagles in 2021, was held to just 25 yards on 14 carries.

Eagles' quarterback Phil Jurkovec opened up the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Zay Flowers at the midway point of the first quarter, making it a 7-0 game. Following a short offensive drive for Rutgers, Jurkovec again marched down the field, but Rutgers' defensive back Christian Braswell intercepted Jurkovec, setting up the Scarlet Knights' offense in excellent field position, but Rutgers missed a short field goal attempt, keeping the game scoreless heading into the second quarter.

The Scarlet Knights finally got on the scoreboard thanks to a 26-yard run by Aron Cruickshank that capped off a five play, 61-yard drive, but a missed extra point kept Boston College in the lead at 7-6.

Following a pair of three and out drives from both teams, Jurkovec put together a 76-yard scoring drive that included two deep passes to Flowers. The second, was a 26-yard completion that put the Eagles up 14-6 late in the first half. It was Flowers' second receiving touchdown of the day.

At halftime, Schiano's squad looked scarily similar to last year's underperforming team that was unable to move the ball downfield consistently, but on Rutgers' opening defensive drive, Wesley Bailey strip sacked Jurkovec, giving the Scarlet Knights the ball back in excellent field position. It was the second turnover of the day for Rutgers' defense.

It took just two runs from Kyle Monangai until he found the endzone, cutting the deficit to just two, and making it a 14-12 game early in the third quarter.

The Eagles quickly responded with a long scoring drive where Jurkovec found Jaden Williams in the back of the endzone for an 11-yard score, pushing Boston College's lead up to 21-12  midway through the first quarter.

Following a short field goal by Jude McAtamney that made the score 21-15, Rutgers' defense came up big with an interception from Robert Longerbeam with just under 13 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Scarlet Knights went three and out and were forced to punt the ball back to the Eagles.

After a strong defensive stand, the Scarlet Knights got the ball back with just seven minutes remaining, giving Schiano's squad one last opportunity to go down and take the lead. His offense was up for the task.

Monangai ran the ball seven times during the game winning drive, picking up a total of 46 yards. Salaam finished the job with two consecutive ling runs, the second ended in six points for the Scarlet Knights. McAtamney's extra point gave Rutgers the lead, 22-21.

Jurkovec was unable to move the ball, as Rutgers' defense iced the game away thanks to a combined sack from Bailey and Christian Izien, clinching the week one win for the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers never led at any point in the contest until their final score. It was a welcomed sight for Scarlet Knight fans from Schiano's squad that has struggled in the past after getting down early in games. The victory put the team on a positive track to their first six-win season since 2014.

The Scarlet Knights will look to keep the ball rolling when they head back home to SHI Stadium to take on Wagner University (0-1, 0-0 Northeast Conference) on Sept. 1o at 4 p.m. in Piscataway, New Jersey.

 

 

 

 

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