Five Stars of Rutgers Season Opening Win Over Washington State
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights traveled across the country to start the season once again. In 2013, Rutgers lost a high scoring contest to Fresno State. This year, the Scarlet Knights were on the winning end of a high scoring game to begin the season.
Kyle Flood and company got off to a quick start, scoring on the first play from scrimmage and held a nice lead at halftime. Washington State, and it’s air raid offense, stole momentum late in the first half and into the third quarter and eventually took the lead. From then on, the game was back and forth until the final minute.
How did Rutgers hold on and sneak out of Seattle, Washington with a win? Well, there were definitely a few star players for the Scarlet Knights that led the team to victory.
Rutgers All-Conference running back showed the world that he is indeed a workhorse. James ran for a total of 173 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries. He even impressed the games announcers which often times called him a Big Ten ready running back. When Rutgers needed him most, in the fourth quarter, James took the team on his back for a winning touchdown drive.
The backup safety made the two biggest plays of the game. With Rutgers on it’s heels and Washington State with a chance to pull away, Aiken changed the game by getting his hand in and knocking the ball away from the Cougars punt returner. Rutgers would recover with good field position and was set up for the eventual winning drive. Then, Washington State had one final chance and they looked to be moving down the field. On a fourth down play with just over :50 to play, Aiken reached up and knocked the ball from the WSU receivers’ hands, forcing a turnover on downs and a Rutgers victory.
We spoke about Rutgers needing younger receivers to step up, but the star junior didn’t need all that much help in this contest. Nova connected with Carroo for a 78 yard TD on the first play from scrimmage. Carroo showed the play making ability Rutgers fans saw last season and finished with a team high six receptions for 151 yards and that early touchdown. Carroo also made a great play, holding on to a pass after taking a big hit late in the game. We saw Carroo make nice grabs on both the outside and inside.
This is an unsung choice. Burton does not get much notoriety playing the fullback position but his value was clear in this game. Time and time again, Burton could be seen making a big block to help James and Desmon Peoples get through the line and grab that extra yard. He also made a nice play, giving Rutgers fans flashbacks to Brian Leonard, on a 34 yard catch and run.
This is another selection that is not as obvious when looking at the Box Score. Longa finished with seven tackles, including four of the solo variety. Nothing spectacular? No, but Longa was all over the field last night, using his speed and football IQ to disrupt Washington State as much as one man could. Longa was always around the ball. Against a pass-happy attack, the linebacker spot does not have as many opportunities to make big plays, but it’s clear last season was no fluke and Longa is a beast for Rutgers on defense.
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