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Rutgers football secures first Big Ten win since 2017

Junior running back Isaih Pacheco finished with 98 total yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. – Photo by Courtesy of Alyte Katilius / State News

The Rutgers football team had a successful start to its season, defeating Michigan State 38-27 and snapping a 21-game Big Ten losing streak. It was the Scarlet Knights’ (1-0) first win in conference play since Nov. 4, 2017, against Maryland

Rutgers delivered a victory in the first game of head football coach Greg Schiano’s second tenure on the Banks. Schiano returned to the Knights' sideline for the first time since 2011, claiming a victory in his first game as a Big Ten head coach and pushing his overall record at Rutgers to 69-67.

The Knights scored two touchdowns in the first 8 minutes. Junior running back Isaih Pacheco started off the game with a 12-yard touchdown run, and junior quarterback Johnny Langan added a one-yard score after Rutgers caused a sack-fumble. The Knights' defense caused seven turnovers on Saturday.

The Spartans responded with a 50-yard touchdown pass on fourth down from Rocky Lombardi to Jayden Reed, which cut the deficit in half. Soon after, Lombardi threw one of his two interceptions of the game, eventually leading to a 24-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Noah Vedral.

Vedral started despite having an “or” designation on the depth chart alongside junior quarterback Artur Sitkowski. After a Vedral interception, which led to a Michigan State field goal, Pacheco scored his second touchdown on a 3-yard run, extending Rutgers’ lead to 28-13.

In the second half, after a muffed punt by the Knights, the Spartans scored the game's only third-quarter touchdown.

Rutgers added to its lead in the fourth quarter with a 44-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Guy Fava and a 14-yard touchdown pass from Vedral to senior wide receiver Shameen Jones.

Michigan State scored once more.

Vedral took most of the snaps at quarterback, finishing 18-for-29 with 169 yards.

“Noah certainly had a productive game and he gave us a chance,” Schiano said, according to the Asbury Park Press. “Some of his mobility allowed him to escape and make some plays. That was critical.”

Pacheco finished with 98 total yards.

The Knights' seven defensive turnovers are the most in any game coached by Schiano in his time on the Banks.

Lombardi finished with 319 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Reed tallied a notable 128 receiving yards on 11 catches and two touchdowns. Spartans head coach Mel Tucker made his East Lansing debut Saturday.

“I was so happy for our players,” Schiano said, according to 247 Sports. “Let’s be real here ... these kids who have been in the program have had some tough stretches … I want to see tough guys that just keep going and keep chopping.”

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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