Thursday, November 9, 2006
By Rutgers Athletics Communications
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - No. 15 Rutgers registered its biggest win in school history and kept its unbeaten streak alive, stunning No. 3 Louisville, 28-25 before a record crowd of 44,111 at Rutgers Stadium. The prime-time victory in front of a nationally-televised audience was the first over a ranked opponent by the Scarlet Knights since 1988.
Rutgers is just one of four undefeated teams remaining in college football- No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 Michigan and No. 14 Boise State are the others.
On his second attempt, junior placekicker Jeremy Ito (Loma Linda, Calif.) kicked a 28-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining in the game to push the Scarlet Knights to their ninth victory of the season. The nine wins are the most for a Rutgers team since the 1978 campaign.
Rutgers erased an 18-point deficit and began its game-winning drive on its own nine-yard line with 5:28 left in the fourth quarter. Slowly but surely, the offensive moved up the field. Fullback Brian Leonard (Gouverneur, N.Y.) kept his reception streak of consecutive games alive 43 games catching a pass in the flats to move the Scarlet Knights into Louisville territory.
Heisman Trophy candidate Ray Rice (New Rochelle, N.Y.) rambled for runs of 20, four and two yards to move RU into field goal range. Ito had his first attempt a 33-yarder - with 17 seconds showing pull wide left. He converted the winning opportunity following a Louisville offside penalty.
"Tonight, showed how hard work pays off," said Rice. "No one quit or got down on ourselves. There were no frowns on our bench, when things weren't going our way. We just kept chopping."
The Scarlet Knights defense was nothing short of spectacular in the second half, forcing the Louisville offense into five three-and-outs on six possessions. They limited Cardinals quarterback Brian Brohm, averaging 270.5 passing yards a game, to just 163 yards. It was the junior's lowest passing output of the season.
Louisville jumped out to a 15-7 lead following a 100-yard kickoff return from JaJua Spillman. The Cardinals tacked on a five-yard strike from Brohm and a field goal to push ahead, 25-7.
"I told our kids at halftime (trailing 25-14) that we were playing well, we just had to get some plays and mix it up," said Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. "Our guys did a great job of adjusting in the second half. It takes smart and committed kids to make those changes."
Kenny Britt leaped to snag a pass over the middle and erupt for 67 yards. He was stripped of the ball but recovered at the four-yard line. Rice scored his second rushing touchdown of the evening, pulling Rutgers to three (25-22).
Ito connected on a 46-yard attempt with 10:13 showing in the fourth quarter to knot the game. The kick was the 47th of his career as Ito moved into first place in the RU record book.
The win was the largest come-from-behind victory since Oct. 9, 2004 when the Scarlet Knights overcame a 24-point differential at Vanderbilt.