Embattled Rutgers beats Kansas
Piscataway, N.J – . — After seeing six players kicked off the team, having their coach and top receiver suspended and their defensive captain lost for the season with an injury, Rutgers actually can head into its bye week with a smile.
Chris Laviano threw two touchdowns and Josh Hicks ran for 113 yards and two more scores as embattled Rutgers snapped a two-game losing streak and defeated Kansas 27-14 Saturday, handing the Jayhawks their 34nd straight loss away from Lawrence.
It was the first win for the Scarlet Knights (2-2) since Flood was suspended for three games on Sept. 16 for contacting a faculty member about a player’s grade. Running backs coach Norries Wilson has run the team the last two games.
“It was a must win because I didn’t want to go into a bye week with a three-game losing streak and everybody hanging their head,” Wilson said. “We wanted to win a football game and make us feel good going into a bye week and know what we could go out and beat a quality opponent and get ourselves ready for the next one.”
The Scarlet Knights really needed this one after a last-minute loss to Washington State and a poor performance against Penn State days after Flood was suspended.
“We want to win all our games but we really needed this to have momentum heading into the bye week,” said Laviano, whose touchdowns covered 14 yards to Carlton Agudosi and 7 to Matt Flanagan. He finished 18 of 25 for 201 yards and two interceptions.
The Scarlet Knights have a brutal October in the Big Ten Conference with No. 2 Michigan State, No. 1 Ohio State and No. 22 Wisconsin on tap plus currently undefeated Indiana.
“We always talk about the season as the first four and then eight straight,” Flanagan said. “Ending these four games with a win is really big with the next opponent being Michigan State. “
Hicks scored on runs of 1 and 4 yards. Robert Martin had 17 carries for 102 yards as the Scarlet Knights ran for a season-high 312 yards.
“The run game was definitely clicking today,” Martin said. “We had a good week of practice and it just escalated onto the field.”
Ke’aun Kinner scored on runs of 2 and 1 yard for Kansas (0-3), which is still looking to give new coach David Beaty his first win.
The Jayhawks were limited to 64 yards rushing on 29 attempts, a 2.2 yard average.
Rutgers, which had six players kicked off the team since August because of arrests and had star receiver Leonte Carroo suspended indefinitely for an altercation outside the stadium after a loss to Washington State, used a ball-control offense on drives of 91, 75 and 84 yards in opening a 27-7 lead early in the second half.
The Jayhawks hurt themselves with 15-yard penalties on each of the drives, including a horse-collar tackle by Ben Goodman on a third down play that kept one of them alive.
“Eliminate big plays,” Kansas linebacker Marcquis Roberts said of the mistakes. “We did pretty good for the most part. For the second half we did really good. We held them to seven points, but we have to eliminate big plays. The less big plays we have the better off we are”
Laviano capped the longest drive with the pass to Agudosi, who has moved into the starting lineup since Carroo was suspended. The pass to Flanagan capped a 31-yard drive set up when linebacker Kaiwan Lewis intercepted a pass by Deondre Ford. A botched extra point left the score at 13-0.
Ford, who got the start because Montell Cozart had flu-like symptoms before the game, sprained a thumb on the next series and did not return. Cozart came on and finished the game.
Hicks had a 31-yard run to set up his 1-yard tally with 2:31 left in the half. He added his 4-yard score on the opening series of the third quarter.
Kinner got Kansas within 13 points late in the third quarter after a fumble by Hicks. Cozart drove the Jayhawks of the Big 12 Conference to the Rutgers 20 midway through the fourth quarter but his fourth-down pass under pressure fell short.
Scarlet Knights defensive tackle Darius Hamilton announced before the game that he would not play again this season because of a lower body injury.