Rutgers Sunk in Annapolis; Navy wins 23-21

Adam HelfgottCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2008

The Scarlet Knights (0-3) dropped their third in a row to start the season Saturday as they fell to Navy (2-2) on the road 23-21 in front of presidential candidate John McCain and a record crowd of  37,821 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, snapping a three-game winning streak against the Midshipmen.

Rutgers 0-3 start is the worst start since 1999 when the Scarlet Knights finished 1-10 under Head Coach Terry Shea.

In a game that went back and forth with five lead changes, Rutgers took a 21-20 lead with 7:38 left in the fourth quarter on a 12 yard run by RB Jourdan Brooks. Brooks finished with 22 carries for 134 yards and two touchdowns on the day.

Navy marched 63 yards down the field and answered with a 24 yard field goal from kicker Matt Harmon with only 2:06 remaining giving the Mids a 23-21 lead.

Rutgers QB Mike Teel and his offense got the ball at the 40 yard line after Navy received a penalty for kicking the ball out of bounds. Teel was then picked off by Navy linebacker Ross Pospisil with 1:34 remaining, sealing the game for the Mids.

Early on it looked as if the Knights had control of the game. Navy took an early 3-0 lead on the opening drive but Rutgers answered right back with their own 12 play, 66 yard drive that ended with a touchdown by redshirt freshman RB Joe Martinek.

After another Navy FG made it 7-6 but the Mids were forced to punt on their next possesion and that's when junior DB Devin McCourty blocked the kick which was recovered by the Knights on the Navy 15-yard line.

Rutgers added another touchdown by RB Jourdan Brooks on a six yard run making the score 14-6 going into the half.

Navy took the lead in the second half on two scores; QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada connecting with Tyree Barnes on a 22 yard strike to cut the deficit to 14-13. Navy then scored on an Eric Kettani 2-yard run with 3:55 left in the third quarter to take a 20-14 lead.

All season the Rutgers secondary has been badly hurt on big time passing plays and today was no different. Navy, primarily a option running team, hurt the Knights in the air at crucial times. Kaheaku-Enhada finished 5/8 for 89 yards and one big touchdown.

As usual Navy racked up the yards on the ground finishing with 272 yards total. Eric Kettani carried the ball 20 times for 133 yards, while Shun White finished with 85 yards on 16 carries.

The only bright spot for the Rutgers offense came in the rushing game as the Knights finished with 337 yards total, 206 of those coming on the ground.

RB Kordell Young sat out once again with a knee injury putting freshman Jourdan Brooks in the starting role. Brooks shared the carries with redshirt freshman Joe Martinek, the all-time leading rusher in NJ High School football history.

The passing game looked non-existent for Rutgers as Mike Teel finished 13/20 for 131 yards and one interception. Teel threw short routes all day long and never went over the middle to his three big targets in Kenny Britt, Tiquan Underwood, or Kevin Brock.

Teel has now thrown six interceptions and one touchdown in three games for Rutgers.

In other notes Junior DE George Johnson left the game with a lower leg injury in the first half, he did not return to the game.

Rutgers next game is this upcoming Saturday against FCS opponent Morgan State out of the MEAC. Rutgers will then open Big East play by heading down to Morgantown to face West Virginia on October 4.