Rutgers 27, Army 12
After setting the Big East Conference single-season record for receptions in win over Army at Yankee Stadium, Mohamed Sanu had his sights set on another prize - the Big East Conference title for Rutgers.
After losing to West Virginia two weeks ago, those title hopes seemed farfetched. It all changed Saturday.
The Mountaineers knocked off first-place Cincinnati in a game win which Bearcats quarterback Zach Collaros suffered a severe ankle injury and second-place Louisville was beaten by Pittsburgh.
Following its 27-12 win over Army (3-7), Rutgers (7-3, 3-2 Big East) now finds itself a half game out of first place with the Bearcats (3-1) coming to Piscataway next weekend.
It wasn't lost on Sanu after he had 13 catches for 129 yards, pushing his season total to 93, one more than the league record set by Larry Fitzgerald of Pittsburgh in 2003. His total obviously also broke the Rutgers record of 87 set by Kenny Britt in 2008.
''It's pretty awesome to have my name up with those guys,'' Sanu said. ''Just a blessing to be able to put myself in a category with those guys.''
When asked to compare the title and record, Sanu did not hesitate.
''Definitely having a shot at the title,'' said Sanu, who was used as a safety for two weeks after arriving at Rutgers and then quickly switched to offense. ''I would trade it in any day.''
The Scarlet Knights didn't overwhelm Army in the first game between the schools since Scarlet Knights player Eric LeGrand was paralyzed in October 2010.
LeGrand took part in the coin toss before the game at Yankee Stadium along with Malcolm Brown, the player he tackled on his last college play.
Rutgers simply found a way to win, which is what they have been doing all season. It got by on this one getting a go-ahead 38-yard touchdown pass from Chas Dodd to Brandon Coleman in the third quarter and two late scores in the fourth, a 32-yard blocked punt return by Jordan Thomas and a 56-yard run by Jawan Jamison.
''What happened today was huge for us and we are excited about it but we just have to focus on one game at a time and get ready for Cincinnati,'' said Dodd, who was 17 of 27 for 196 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first start since Oct. 1.
Army self-destructed for the second straight week. Alex Carlton missing a potential game-tying extra point in the fourth quarter and a 51-yard run by Stephen Fraser to the Rutgers 1 with around seven minutes to play was nullified by a tripping penalty.
Trailing 13-12, Fraser put Army within a yard of the lead when he ran down the left sideline and was tackled in front of the Cadets' student body, sending them into a celebration. However, the yellow flag on the grass ended the joy.
''I didn't see it,'' said Army coach Rich Ellerson, whose team blew a 14-0 lead against Air Force last week and is now not eligible for a bowl game this season. ''They said it was tripping but I didn't see it.''
Army was eventually forced to punt and Rutgers took advantage.
Wayne Warren came up the middle and blocked Chris Boldt's punt. Thomas picked up the ball and scored for a 20-12 lead with 6:36 to go. Jamison iced game with less than two minutes to play.
Army could have tied the game at 13 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter after Larry Dixon scored on a 2-yard run set up by an interception and return by Thomas Holloway that gave the Black Knights the ball at the Rutgers 36. However Carlton, who hit two short field goals in the first quarter clanged his extra point off the right upright.
''It hurts really bad,'' Army quarterback Angel Santiago said. ''I really wanted to come out here and win this game to show we still have what it takes. As you can see, a couple of calls, a couple of plays, didn't go our way.''
Rutgers placekicker San San Te also struggled on the historic baseball stadium's yielding grass surface, hitting an extra point and a 26-yard field goal in the third quarter with Rutgers ahead 13-6 on the series after Dodd's TD to Coleman.
Army controlled the clock and outgained Rutgers 177-109 in the first half and found itself tied 6-all, and it was lucky to be tied.
Carlton kicked chip-shot field goal after the Black Knights first two drives stalled inside the Scarlet Knights 5. A 55-yard run by Larry Dixon set up the first kick and an 18-yard run by Santiago ignited the second.
Rutgers got on the board late in the second quarter after Army gambled on fourth-and-2 from the Rutgers 40 and Santiago was tackled for no gain.
Dodd then drove the Scarlet Knights 60 yards in eight plays. Jeremy Deering ran for 19 yards on first down and Sanu caught a 16-yard pass on the second play. Dodd eventually finished the drive with a 3-yard pass to fullback Michael Burton. Te's extra point was yanked wide left.