WEST POINT, N.Y. Rutgers tailback Ray Rice rushed for a school-record 243 yards to lead Rutgers past Army, 41-6, Friday night at a cold and wet Michie Stadium.
In front of national broadcast on ESPN2, Rice carried 34 times and scored twice on the way to his fifth 200-yard game of the season and helped Rutgers improve to 6-4 and become bowl eligible for the third straight season.
The Scarlet Knights dominated time of possession 41:56-18:04 and picked up 404 yards rushing. They attempted just 12 passes and completed three.
“I just felt comfortable out there,” Rice said. “Our line did a great job of blocking and I got to change out a lot with Jabu and it felt good to go out there and have a great win.”
Army lost four of five fumbles, threw an interception and was limited to 152 yards of total offense and fell to 3-7.
“That was a very disappointing loss,” said Army coach Stan Brock. “We got our butts kicked on offense, defense and special teams. We didn’t play well and I’m embarrassed for the Corps and the way we represented the U.S. Military Academy. Rutgers is a good football team, but none the less, we played horribly anywhere we could play.”
Caleb Campbell led the Black Knights defense with 12 tackles while John Plumstead had 10 tackles and two tackles for loss. Josh Mitchell had an interception and defensive lineman Ted Bentler broke up a pair of passes.
Ian Smith led Army in rushing with 53 yards on three carries. Quarterback Carson Williams completed 5-of-16 passes for 44 yards while Kevin Dunn rushed for 18 yards and completed two-of-eight passes for 11 yards.
Quarterback Jabu Lovelace, who rushed 23 times for 81 yards, opened the scoring on Rutgers first possession, finding paydirt on a three-yard run. Jeremy Ito kicked the first of his five PAT’s for a 7-0 Rutgers lead at 11:30 of the first quarter.
The Black Knights closed the gap on the ensuring possession when Mitchell returned a Mike Teel pass for a 65-yard interception return. It was Mitchell’s first interception return for a score. The PAT was wide, snapping a streak of 63 straight point afters dating back to 2005.
“We were in simple coverage cover two,” said Mitchell. “I jammed the receiver out of bounds and the quarterback threw it out there.”
Rutgers extended its lead to 14-6 when Colin McEvoy recovered a block punt and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown with 3:23 left in the first quarter.
“It hurts more because, in some of the other games, we played hard and like we wanted to play football.,” said Brock. “Today we didn’t play well. We just didn’t play well against a very good team. If you play poorly against a bad team, sometimes you can sneak away (with a win). But we played poorly against a very good team and we got shut down.”
Lovelace scored his second touchdown early in the second quarter from two yards out and a 21-6 Rutgers advantage.
Ito extended the lead to 24-6 at halftime when he converted a 23-yard field goal with 2:50 left in the first half. Rutgers had possession for 23:42 of the first half.
Rice went to work in the second half, scoring his first touchdown in the third quarter. Army turned the ball over on downs and Rice rushed for 47 yards on the first play after the change of possession. Mason Robison rushed for 14 yards then Rice carried for a yard and then for 18 yards to the end zone and a 31-6 advantage.
“He is very good,” said Brock of Rice. “They have a good offensive line and came off the ball and swallowed our defense up and spit them out. They came off the ball and did whatever they wanted. We could just stand there and call the plays (they were going to run), but if you don’t get off the blocks and you can’t make tackles, they are still hard to stop. It looked like we had a lot of people where they were supposed to be and they didn’t make tackles.”
Rutgers’ Brandon Renkart made an interception late in the third quarter and Rice extended the lead to 38-6 when he scored on a three-yard run.
Ito concluded the scoring when he kicked a 38-yard field goal with nine minutes left in the game. The field goal made Ito the Big East’s all-time leading scorer by a kicker.
Army will honor the senior members of its team next Saturday when the Black Knights host Tulsa in a noon contest at Michie Stadium.