In its season-opening game on Saturday afternoon, the Rutgers football team defeated Temple 61-14 to secure its first win of the young season. The game was initially supposed to be played on Thursday evening but was postponed due to the lingering effects of Tropical Storm Ida.
The Scarlet Knights’ (1-0, 0-0) defense was all over the field making plays against the Owls (0-1, 0-0) in the first half, forcing a safety and three turnovers by the time the game approached the middle of the second quarter. This set the offense up with easy opportunities to score the ball, prompting the team to lead by as much as 26 points in the first half.
Fueled by these turnovers and plays made by the defense, Rutgers eventually took a 26-7 lead over Temple into the halftime break. Junior quarterback Johnny Langan had two first-half rushing touchdowns to help the team while senior defensive back Tre Avery came away with a first-half interception.
Coming out of halftime, the Owls immediately answered with a first-drive touchdown to cut the Knights’ lead to 12 points. This would be as close as Temple would get to Rutgers for the remainder of the game.
Following a 40-yard touchdown by senior wide receiver Bo Melton, freshman defensive back and brother Max Melton returned an interception for a touchdown that would put the Knights comfortably ahead once again, leading 40-14. Rutgers would go on to score three more touchdowns to cap off the victory.
In addition to the contributions of Bo Melton on offense, senior quarterback Noah Vedral had 138 yards and a touchdown while junior wide receiver Aron Cruickshank finished the day with 140 all-purpose yards, a career-high. Meanwhile, on defense, senior linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi helped out the secondary by contributing a team-leading seven tackles and three sacks.
As for the Owls, before leaving the game early due to injury, D’Wan Mathis threw for 148 yards and one interception. Mathis and Edward Saydee scored Temple's only touchdowns of the day while Jose Barbon was the team’s leading receiver. Jordan Magee and Alex Odom both led the team on defense with eight tackles.
Next week, the Knights will travel to take on Syracuse in their first road game of the season. Rutgers is 12-29-1 all-time against the Orange but holds a two-game winning streak.
“I’m so proud of our student section,” said head football coach Greg Schiano after the game. Schiano continuously emphasized the importance of the student section in the days leading up to the game. “They say that students won’t come early in the morning or at noon — I was pretty darn impressed by our students, they did a heck of a job. They were loud, it was great energy (and) great excitement.”
For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.