PISCATAWAY, N.J. (September 14, 2013) – On a historic Saturday for Rutgers football, the Scarlet Knights downed Eastern Michigan, 28-10, at High Point Solutions Stadium. Head coach Kyle Flood addressed the crowd at halftime, as former player Eric LeGrand watched his No. 52 become the first jersey number to be retired in 144 years of Rutgers football.
“I think the game was exactly the type of game that I anticipated, a very physical football game; two teams that really wanted to run the football, and based a lot of their offense off of the ability to run the football.
“I think I would be remiss if I didn't talk a little bit about being out there at halftime withEric. It's the first halftime I think I've been on the field for in 20 years, and I thought it was important that I be there, to at least start the ceremony as the person on the staff who was here with Eric.
“And it's an emotional thing for me to do it, to present him with this award, to present him with the number up in the stadium now and then to be able to start the video, a lot of really special people from his life were able to be a part of that ceremony by videotape, and I thought that that was great, and I know he appreciated it.”
LeGrand spoke briefly to the crowd following the unveiling of the No. 52 atop the west upper concourse of the stadium. All 47,604 fans in attendance held up signs with the No. 52 in honor of LeGrand, who fractured his C3 and C4 vertebrae making a tackle against Army on Oct. 16, 2010.
LeGrand also received an honorary sword from Coach Flood and the Rutgers football staff to commemorate his number retirement.
Junior Paul James (Glassboro, N.J.) sparked the Rutgers offense on the ground, rushing for more than 100-yards (192) for the third time this season and scoring three touchdowns for the second game in a row.
James averaged 9.1 yards per carry, breaking off two 50-plus yard runs for touchdowns in the rout.
Senior Chas Dodd (Lyman, S.C.) replaced an injured Gary Nova (Elmwood Park, N.J.) in the first quarter, going 4-for-9 for 45 yards. Prior to leaving the contest, Nova was 4-4 for 44 yards.
“I don't know right now what his status will be in the upcoming week. He could not return in the second half and he was not available to us really from the second quarter or midway through the first quarter -- not sure exactly when I got notified.
“Might have been right after the first drive it would have been because the second drive was the kickoff return, so at that point he was not available to us. They reevaluated him at halftime and he was not available at the second half.”
The RU defense was stellar as well, holding the Eagles to 38 yards on 40 attempts. Sophomore linebacker Steve Longa (Saddle Brook, N.J.) led the charge with 12 total tackles, while senior Lorenzo Waters (Accokeek, Md.) intercepted his first pass of the season and second of his career.
“It's always tough before you look at the film,” Flood said. “I can tell you the guys that I saw flash during the game. I see a guy like [fifth-year senior] Isaac Holmes with a TFL. I see [junior] Daryl Stephenson (Sayreville, N.J.) with a TFL which is great, because Daryl is a guy that's starting to play more and more for us. I think [junior] Djwany Mera (Hollywood, Fla.) continues to be a consistent performer for us and that's critical.”
Twelve different Scarlet Knights recorded at least 0.5 tackles for a loss in the contest, as Longa and senior defensive end Marcus Thompson (Oakland Park, Fla.) led the way with 2.5 and 2.0, respectively.
RU also racked up six sacks in the dominant outing, with Longa and Thompson also leading in that category with 2.0 and 1.5 sacks, respectively.
James capped the game with 7:04 remaining in the fourth quarter, bursting for 52 yards up the sideline for a touchdown – his third of the game. The score raised his season total to six, matching the overall total for RU running backs last season.
His second score of the day came with 11:03 left on the clock in the third quarter on a 55-yard rush to make it 21-10 Rutgers. The score followed EMU’s second quarter touchdown – its lone touchdown of the game – which occurred at the 7:25 mark in that period. Quarterback Ryan Brumfield found tight end Tyler Benz for a 43-yard touchdown to complete a five-play, 83-yard drive and make it a 14-10 Rutgers advantage.
RU got going quick in the first quarter of play, notching 14 points to take a 14-3 lead. James opened the game with a 13-yard touchdown run, completing an impressive eight-play,87-yard drive.
Not to be outdone,senior Quron Pratt (Palmyra, N.J.) took a kickoff 99 yards to a touchdown. The return was the first of his career, and made it 14-3 RU after and Eastern Michigan field goal. It was RU’s second kick return for a touchdown this season, both of which have occurred in the first quarter of play.
The Scarlet Knights will be back at High Point Solutions Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21 against Arkansas for their annual “Black Out” game. Rutgers defeated the Razorbacks, 35-26, last season in the first meeting between the two schools.
Rutgers Player Quotes
Fifth-year senior defensive lineman JamilMerrell (Bear, Del.)
“Our mindset going in was that this game was for Eric. We were not going to go into this game andlose it because we know what Eric goes through, how he stays positive and how much he means to not just the Rutgers team, but this country. Losing this game was not an option for us”
“We came out with energy. We had intensity, positive energy and all that and it definitely changed the outcome.
Junior running back Paul James
“It was a big game, retiring Eric’s number. I know how much he wants to be out there on that field and how he wishes he could be out there playing. It was inspirational and Ifelt like I was playing for him and definitely getting the win for him.”
“In practice and stuff, I’ve been working on getting away from that last defender and getting into the end zone. When I broke to the outside and I saw that last defender I was like ‘oh I’m beating him.’ It was something in my mind that I had to do”
Sophomore linebacker Steve Longa
“We were prepared for this moment. This game was not just a regular game; it was for No. 52 Eric LeGrand. I didn’t play with him, but in high school I had a similar thing happen to my best friend and I kind of know how it feels. Today’s game was a special game.”
“It’s just about stopping the run, that’s what we’re about. We did that today and that’s a big plus for our defense.”
Senior wide receiver Quron Pratt
“I saw [senior defensive back] Jeremy Deering go down and I just did what I had to do. I saw the great blocks open up. When I was running I didn’t hear anything, just complete silence until I saw the end zone.”
“I’ve got a lot of experience. I take pride in it and work hard every day in practice and do special teams. I asked the staff if I could do it and I went out and did my job today.”
Senior quarterback Chas Dodd
“I’ve had to prepare every week as if I was the guy and make sure I know the play book and what the game plan is. As far as that, I felt fine.”
“[Fifth-year senior center] Dallas [Hendrickson] and I have always had a good chemistry with our snaps and everything so it was good to have him in there. I was comfortable with him.”
Follow Rutgers Athletics on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RutgersAthletics) and Twitter (@RUAthletics) for all of the latest news and updates. For specific updates regarding Rutgers football, follow the program on Twitter (@RFootball). Fans can receive timely information, including special offers and giveaways throughout the year on our social media outlets along with www.ScarletKnights.com.
- First Collegiate Start: FS Tejay Johnson, LB Davon Jacobs
- First Career Start for Rutgers: C Dallas Hendrikson (two-year starter at Iowa Western Community College before transferring to RU)
- Today’s game marked the first meeting between Rutgers and Eastern Michigan.
- Rutgers has won six consecutive games when passing for less than 100 yards in a game. Today, the Scarlet Knights went 8-for-13 with 89 yards. The last time the team threw for less than 100 was a 19-14 win over FIU, with RU passing for 96 yards (8-for-16, one touchdown).
- Eastern Michigan rushed for 38 yards in the game. RUimproved to 9-3 under Kyle Flood when allowing less than 100 rushing yards and 4-1 with less than 50 rushingyards allowed.
- Rutgers has 653 rushing yards as a team in the firstthree games of the season. That is the most since the team had 685 in the first three games of the 2007 season.
- The defense totaled six sacks in the game. The last time that happened was against Pitt in 2011.
- WR Quron Pratt returned his first career kickoff return 99 yards for a touchdown. WR Janarion Grant (100 yards) also achieved the feat at Fresno State. RU last had multiple kickoffs for a touchdown in the 2009 season (three).
- RB Paul James found the end zone three times; giving him six touchdowns in the last two games. Rutgers had six rushing touchdowns for the 2012 season. James registered over 100 yards (192) for the third-straight game. Jawan Jamison went over 100 in the first five games of 2012.
- James is the first Scarlet Knight since Ray Rice in 2007 to score at least three touchdowns in two consecutive games. Rice had three touchdowns against Louisville and four touchdowns in final collegiategame against Ball State.
- James is the first player to have four rushes of at least 50 yards in a season in the 2000s. The last RU player with at least two rushes of 50 yards or more was Rice in 2006 with two.
- James’ four rushes of 50 yards or more are more than the previous three seasons combined. RU had one rushing play of 50 yards or longer in 2012, 2011 and 2010.
- James has 493 rushing yards on the season through three games. It is the most yards rushing for a Rutgers player in the first three games of a season since Rice had 499 in 2006.
- Since 2000, Rutgers has had multiple 50-yard runs in a season four times: 2013 (4), 2009 (2), 2006 (2) and 2005 (2).
- After downing five punts inside the 20 last week, P Nick Marsh put two more down against the Eagles.
- DL Marcus Thompson picked up at least one sack in the third straight game. He is the first player since Jamaal Westerman in 2007 to achieve the feat. Westerman totaled five sacks against Cincinnati, Syracuse and USF.