Rice ruins Army’s Michie Stadium luck in Rutgers’ 41-6 romp
WEST POI NT, N.Y. (AP)—Rutgers’ game plan was simple. Give the ball to Ray Rice and watch him work his magic.
Rice ran for a school-record 243 yards and scored twice, and the Scarlet Knights played keepaway from Army, beating the Black Knights 41-6 on Friday night to snap a two-game losing streak and become bowl-eligible.
Rice broke the school record of 232 yards set by Terrell Willis against Temple in 1994, and set another team mark with his fifth career 200-yard game.
“As much as breaking the school record is important to me, the team’s success is what’s most important,” said Rice, who scored on an 18-yard run late in the third and a 3-yard run early in the fourth. “I’ll have time to reflect after the season.”
Backup quarterback Jabu Lovelace scored on two short runs and Colin McEvoy returned a blocked punt 22 yards for another touchdown to help Rutgers (6-4) dominate the game on a raw, rainy and snowy evening in handing Army (3-7) its first loss in four games at Michie Stadium this season.
Army entered the game ranked 109th against the run, allowing 212.7 yards per game, and the Scarlet Knights took advantage, running Rice 34 times before he departed early in the fourth quarter.
Rice, sixth nationally with an average of 139.7 yards per game, gained 130 yards on 22 carries in the first half alone as Rutgers held the ball for a stunning 23:42, limited the Black Knights to just three first downs, and built a 24-6 lead.
For the game, Rutgers held the ball for 41:56 and held Army to 152 yards and six first downs offensively. The Black Knights didn’t get their fourth first down until Ian Smith had a 12-yard run with just under 5 minutes remaining in the game. Rutgers ran 84 plays, 40 more than the Black Knights.
“That’s a very disappointing loss,” Army head coach Stan Brock said. “We got our butts kicked everywhere. I’m embarrassed for the Corps of Cadets the way we represented ourselves. That’s a good football team, but we played horrible. They came off the ball, swallowed our defense up and spit it out. We didn’t play well against a very good team, and we got it shoved down our throat.”
Rutgers took a 7-0 lead on their first possession, and it was Rice who got the Scarlet Knights started. He gained 32 yards on four straight carries and Lovelace gained another 13 on three tries, scoring on a 3-yard run at 11:30 for a 7-0 lead.
The Black Knights came right back and seemed as if they might make a game of it when Josh Mitchell stepped in front of a sideline throw by Mike Teel and ran 65 yards for a touchdown with his first career interception to make it 7-6 midway through the first quarter.
That was just about the lone bright spot for the Black Knights. Adam DeMarco missed wide left on the extra point, Army’s first missed PAT since October 2005.
For Teel, who started despite a sore thumb on his throwing (right) hand, it was his 10th interception of the season. Lovelace, a slashing runner and erratic thrower, took over for good before halftime and helped keep Army on its heels.
“We were able to run the ball effectively, and Jabu was a big part of that,” Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said. “That was the plan because of Teel’s thumb.”
The game began slipping away from the Black Knights the next time they had the ball. Devin McCourty blocked his third punt of the season and Colin McEvoy returned it 22 yards for a TD to put Rutgers up 14-6 with 3:23 left in the first quarter.
The Scarlet Knights made it 21-6 early in the second after Jeremy Trimble tried to scoop up a pooched punt and watched it skim right through his legs. Jean Beljour recovered for the Scarlet Knights at the Army 6 and Lovelace scored on a 2-yard run two plays later.
“Jeremy doesn’t make mistakes,” Brock said. “He’s trying to make something happen and it backfired.”
Army has two games left, and the last is Navy in three weeks. Time is of the essence.
“Going in, we had a lot of expectations, a big game on national TV, Friday night,” Army punter Owen Tolson said. “I don’t know what happened out there in the beginning. We’ve just got to make sure we get everything fixed.”