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Rutgers football moves to 2-0 with win over Syracuse

The Rutgers football team improved to 2-0 on Saturday, defeating Syracuse 17-7 in the Carrier Dome.  – Photo by Emma Garibian

The Rutgers football team defeated Syracuse 17-7 on Saturday afternoon to pick up the program’s second win of the season. The win marks the first time the Scarlet Knights (2-0, 0-0) have won their first two games of the season since 2014.

The first half of Saturday’s game can be described best as a collection of defensive stops and punts by both teams, a combination that left the score tied 0-0 at halftime. In the first half, the Rutgers offense produced just 58 passing yards and rushed for -9 yards while converting on only one third down.

The third quarter saw both teams finally get on the scoreboard. The Knights were the first to score when freshman running back Kyle Monangai stormed into the end zone on an 11-yard touchdown run.

On the very next drive, The Orange (1-1, 0-0) responded to this score as Sean Tucker rushed in for a 24-yard touchdown. By the end of the quarter, Rutgers regained the lead over Syracuse thanks to a 30-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Noah Vedral to senior tight end Jovani Haskins.

Following a missed field goal by senior kicker Valentino Ambrosio in the fourth quarter, the Knights' defense collected 1 of its 3 turnovers on the game when junior defensive lineman Mayan Ahanotu sacked Tommy DeVito, forcing the ball out in the process.

The fumble was recovered by senior defensive lineman CJ Onyechi on the Orange’s 10-yard line, putting the Knights in position to increase their lead to two scores, which they did on an Ambrosio field goal with 8:23 remaining in the game.

Syracuse had two more chances on offense to draw closer on the scoreboard but ultimately fell short as Rutgers secured the victory.

The Knights struggled on offense for a majority of the day, gaining only 195 yards of total offense on the day and just 50 rushing yards. Vedral finished with 145 passing yards and a touchdown while junior running back Isaih Pacheco led the team in rushing with 50 yards. The leading receiver was senior wide receiver Bo Melton, who had 43 receiving yards.

As previously mentioned, the Rutgers defense forced 3 turnovers in the afternoon, 2 of which were fumbles with one being an interception. Senior linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi led the team with 12 tackles, while senior defensive lineman Ifeanyi Maijeh had two tackles. The Knights' defense also compiled four sacks on the day.

For the Orange, DeVito finished with 149 passing yards and an interception in the loss. Tucker finished the game as the leading rusher with 54 yards, and Taj Harris was the game’s leading receiver finishing with 122 yards.

Rutgers will return home on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. to face Delaware.

“We have work to do. Defense played well, but you know how it is, you’re as good as your last performance,” said head football coach Greg Schiano. “We need to get better as a team, but again like I said last week, it’s nice to do it from the 'W' column.”

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

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