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At Rutgers, It’s a Not-So-Grand Opening

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The New York Times 07.09.2009 20:57
An expansion of Rutgers’s football stadium meant a crowd of 53,737 saw Mardy Gilyard’s 5-yard catch in the second quarter, one of six Cincinnati touchdowns.

An expansion of Rutgers’s football stadium meant a crowd of 53,737 saw Mardy Gilyard’s 5-yard catch in the second quarter, one of six Cincinnati touchdowns.

Tony Pike threw for a career-high 362 yards and 3 touchdowns, and visiting Cincinnati used its high-speed, no-huddle offense to hurry past Rutgers, 47-15, on Monday.

The defending Big East champion Bearcats got a jump on the conference race by improving to 4-0 against Rutgers since joining the league.

Looking to christen their newly expanded stadium and extend their seven-game winning streak, the Scarlet Knights could not keep up with Pike, Mardy Gilyard and the Bearcats.

“The pace was absolutely crucial today," Cincinnati Coach Brian Kelly said. “You knew what Rutgers was going to do and that is control the clock. So we knew it was absolutely crucial to push the ball down the court.”

Pike completed 27 of 34 passes, Gilyard caught eight passes for 89 yards and a score, and Isaiah Pead scored two touchdowns.

With Pike directing traffic at the line of scrimmage, the Bearcats raced down the field to open the game, covering 81 yards in 2 minutes 29 seconds without an incomplete pass. Pead capped the drive with a 2-yard run.

Rutgers’s response to Cincinnati’s speed was a methodical, 20-play, 78-yard drive that took more than 10 minutes and ended on a 5-yard touchdown run by Joe Martinek. But its success did not last.

Rutgers quarterback Domenic Natale, a senior who is replacing the departed Mike Teel, held the ball too long and had several throws sail high. Cincinnati turned his first two interceptions into touchdowns. Natale left open the possibility that his first career start could be his last, especially after the highly regarded freshman Tom Savage played the second half, completing 15 of 23 for 135 yards and a touchdown.

Pike went 20 of 25 in the first half for 286 yards, with touchdown passes of 5 yards to Gilyard and 41 yards to Pead as the Bearcats raced to a 31-7 halftime lead.

Cincinnati even gave Rutgers a dose of the Wildcat with the redshirt freshman tight end Travis Kelce, a former quarterback. Kelce took two snaps, gaining 16 yards to finish off the first of three consecutive second-quarter touchdown drives. The runs were the first two touches of Kelce’s career.


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