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Rutgers pass test, topple Pitt, 20-10



Published: Sat, October 21, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Ray Rice carried 39 times for 225 yards for the 19th-ranked Scarlet Knights.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Rutgers has one of the worst passing offenses of any nationally ranked team. With a runner like Ray Rice and a defense like this, it hardly mattered.

Rice's 63-yard run set up his own short touchdown run in the fourth quarter immediately after Pittsburgh had closed to within three points, and the No. 19 Scarlet Knights won their first big test of the season by beating the Panthers, 20-10, Saturday.

Rice carried 39 times for 225 yards to nearly outgain Pittsburgh by himself and put Rutgers in position to make a major move up the AP poll if it can beat No. 6 Louisville at home Nov. 9 -- as long as it beats Connecticut Oct. 29. Rutgers (7-0, 2-0) hasn't been unbeaten so deep into a season since 1976, when it was ranked as high as No. 17 but played mostly against Ivy League-type competition.

Poor performance

Pitt (6-2, 2-1 Big East) had won four in a row and was in position to break into the Top 25 with a victory, but an offense averaging 37.6 points did almost nothing against a Rutgers defense that was No. 1 nationally in scoring defense and No. 2 in total defense.

The Knights did what they do best: Run the ball, control the clock and get the ball back quickly when they did give it up. They sacked Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko four times and limited what was the nation's most efficient quarterback -- Palko had 17 touchdown passes and three interceptions -- to 169 yards passing. Rutgers outgained Pitt 340-236, 268-67 on the ground.

Rice, in his fourth career 200-yard game, was the difference as the nation's No. 4 rusher went over the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in as many seasons -- he now has 1,124 yards. After Pitt had drawn to within 13-10 on Palko's 8-yard pass to Oderick Turner early in the fourth quarter, Rice broke up the middle on the 63-yard run on first down to the Pitt 27 that quickly swung the momentum back to Rutgers.

Two plays later, Rice ran off a 20-yard gain, then scored from the 2 a play later to again put the Knights up by two scores.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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