Gavin Wimsatt scored with his arm and his legs, his teammates on defense stood tall and Rutgers opened its season with a Big Ten victory, beating visiting Northwestern 24-7 on Sunday afternoon in Piscataway, N.J.
Entering the season as Rutgers’ No. 1 quarterback, Wimsatt completed 17 of 29 passes for 163 yards and one touchdown. He added a rushing touchdown in the second quarter and combined with Kyle Monangai and freshman Ja’shon Benjamin for 122 rushing yards.
The Scarlet Knights (1-0) possessed the ball for 37:59 of game time and held Northwestern to 201 total yards.
Northwestern (0-1) struggled in the program’s first game since a hazing scandal led to the firing of longtime coach Pat Fitzgerald in July. The Wildcats lost their 12th straight game after finishing last season on an 11-game skid.
David Braun, in his debut as interim head coach, went with Cincinnati transfer Ben Bryant at starting quarterback. Bryant went 20-for-35 passing for just 169 yards; he was intercepted twice and sacked five times.
The Scarlet Knights converted two fourth downs on their opening drive, the latter when Wimsatt completed a pass on the run to Christian Dremel for 17 yards.
Wimsatt hit freshman Ian Strong on a fade to the back-left corner of the end zone. It was initially ruled no catch, but a review showed Strong got his left toes down in bounds, and Rutgers was awarded the touchdown.
Wimsatt scored early in the second quarter on a 6-yard keeper up the middle. Rutgers’ first two drives each took 16 plays, gaining 75 and 80 yards, respectively.
The Wildcats tried a fake punt and Hunter Renner completed the pass to Rod Heard II, but he was brought down short of the line to gain. Rutgers responded with Jai Patel’s 32-yard field goal, making it 17-0 with 7:42 left in the half.
Northwestern was stopped on fourth down a second time before Bryant bobbled a snap and Max Melton intercepted Bryant’s rushed throw. But Patel’s second field goal try hit the right upright before the half ended.
Monangai cruised 15 yards to the end zone with 4:05 left in the third quarter after the defense bit on Wimsatt’s fake.
Robert Longerbeam made a leaping interception of Bryant’s deep pass early in the fourth quarter.
Rutgers’ Rashad Rochelle muffed a punt during the final 3 minutes of the game, allowing Northwestern a second chance to avoid a shutout. Backup quarterback Brendan Sullivan took over, guided the Wildcats to the Rutgers 1-yard line and rolled out to toss a touchdown to running back Caleb Komolafe with 19 seconds left.
–Field Level Media