Rutgers 52, Ball State

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Ray Rice ran over Ball State and through the 2,000-yard barrier, giving Rutgers its second postseason win in the school's 138-year history and leaving the Scarlet Knights wondering if he'll scamper off to the NFL.

The junior, who kept mum on his plans for the draft, ran for 280 yards and four touchdowns, including a career-long 90-yarder to lift the Scarlet Knights to a 52-30 win over the Ball State Cardinals on Saturday.

"I've been around some great running backs, both in college football and the National Football League," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "This guy, what he did today, was second to none. It's an amazing performance."

Rutgers (8-5), which played the first college football game, hadn't won a bowl game before last year. Now the program has won two in a row, following a 37-10 win over Kansas State in the 2006 Texas Bowl, another blowout.

Ball State (7-6), meanwhile, is still waiting for its first bowl win in six tries.

"Obviously we're disappointed in the outcome," Ball State coach Brady Hoke said. "We gave up some big plays and when you give up big plays, either running the football or with balls over your head, it kills the flow of the team."

Rice, whose 25 touchdowns this season are a school record, has yet to announce whether he'll skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. Players who choose to declare for the draft must do so by Jan. 15.

"Me and coach will sit down once we get back to New Jersey and decide on that," was all Rice would say.

Schiano has already made a similar decision. After speaking with Michigan about the Wolverines' job opening in December, Schiano stayed with Rutgers.

Rice made that decision look wise on Saturday.

On the Scarlet Knights' first drive of the third quarter, Rice took the ball at his own 10-yard line, broke through the line of scrimmage and raced down the left sideline, fighting off two tacklers before diving into the end zone.

"That was the longest run of my life," Rice said with a laugh. "I'm talking about Pop Warner, high school, everything."

Even quarterback Mike Teel didn't expect Rice to make it all the way.

"I was way behind, jogging, figuring he was going to get tackled," Teel said. "Then all of a sudden I hear the crowd go crazy and he takes off down the sideline and puts it in the end zone. I didn't think he had it in him. That's pretty darn good."

Rice ended the third with a 12-yard run, making him the first Big East player to break 2,000 yards. Rice's 2,012 yards this season are behind only Central Florida's Kevin Smith and Tulane's Matt Forte.

Rice has gone over 100 yards in a school-record eight straight games.

"When it's all said and done, Ray's going to be known as one of the greatest players in Rutgers history," senior offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah said. "Just being part of his whole career and helping him accomplish what he has, has been great."

Rutgers fans chanted "One more year!" after Rice's fourth touchdown run on a one-yard dive late in the third.

"It's always great to know your fans are behind you," Rice said. "They made me feel warm out there. I even got a little emotional at the thought of them caring for me so much."

Facing a Ball State defense ranked 99th in the nation against the run, Rice set the tone early, running left for a 21-yard gain on Rutgers' first play from scrimmage.

"That's been an Achilles' heel for us," Hoke said of his team's inability to stop the run. "We just couldn't fit the defense right."

Five plays later, Teel found Tim Brown wide open over the middle for a 36-yard touchdown pass as Rutgers took an early 7-0 lead.

Rice made it 14-0 on Rutgers' third possession, carrying the ball four straight times and finishing a six play, 70-yard drive with a 1-yard run.

Rice did it all by himself on a second-quarter touchdown drive, rushing five times and catching an eight-yard pass from Teel, before another 1-yard plunge gave Rutgers a 24-6 lead.

Teel completed 16 of 25 attempts for 303 yards and three touchdowns, including a 35-yard scoring strike to Tiquan Underwood in the fourth.

Teel set a school record with his 20th TD pass of the season, a 47-yarder to Kenny Britt at 4:21 of the fourth.

"I really expected Mike to have a great game," Schiano said of Teel, who had been bothered by a sore hand. "He's finally back to feeling healthy and was whipping it in practice."

Britt finished with six catches for 125 yards.

Dante Love scored Ball State's first touchdown on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Nate Davis in the third. Tight end Darius Hill caught two TD passes in the fourth.

Davis completed 25 of 49 for 291 yards and three touchdowns but was sacked seven times.

"He's tough," Schiano said of Davis. "Our guys hit him a lot and he just kept scraping himself off the turf and playing."

Love caught 13 passes for 169 yards and Ian McGarvey kicked three field goals for the Cardinals.

The International Bowl is the only NCAA Division I football game played outside the United States. Cincinnati beat Western Michigan 27-24 in last year's event.


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