PISCATAWAY, N.J. — A Virginia Tech fumble on the second play from scrimmage set the tone for Saturday’s game in SHI Stadium, and though the Hokies pulled within a score in the fourth quarter, Rutgers held them off, 35-16.
Tech (1-2) botched an exchange between quarterback Kyron Drones and Running back Bhayshul Tuten just 30 seconds into the game, which the Scarlet Knights (3-0) recovered and immediately turned into points. Running back Kyle Monangai, who finished with 143 yards, scampered around the edge, avoiding a few Hokie tacklers on his 19-yard score.
However, Tech hung around and had chances. Drones, starting for the injured Grant Wells, helped put the offense in field goal range on the third drive, but John Love’s 36-yard attempt sailed wide left. Love had a second chance three minutes later and drilled a 30-yarder, though.
Rutgers extended its lead to 10-3 after three consecutive three-and-outs when quarterback Gavin Wimsatt kept it for a 34-yard score in the second quarter. Along with Monangai’s early rush, it was one of two big plays Tech allowed in the first half.
A few possessions after a Drones interception, where tight end Benji Gosnell and wide receiver Da’Quan Felton ran into each other, punter Peter Moore had a miskick that rolled just 13 yards, setting up a final Rutgers drive at the end of the first half. Wimsatt capped off the drive with a four-yard pass to Christian Dremel, giving the Scarlet Knights a 21-3 lead at intermission.
Tech came out with some fire in the second half, and Drones hit Felton on a 39-yard strike, the second-longest play of the season from scrimmage, which injected some life into the team with 14:18 remaining. The Hokies scored on their next drive, too, a one-yard rush from Tuten, the Paulsboro, N.J., native. They were stopped on the two-point conversion, leaving the score at 21-16.
Tech wasn’t back in the game for long, though. Monangai scored for the second time on a 55-yard run down the Rutgers sideline, a huge response. And Greg Schiano’s crew put the hammer down a few minutes later when Monangai punched it in from 12 yards, the icing on the cake in a 35-16 game.
Unlike the previous week vs. Purdue, Tech eclipsed 100 yards on the ground, finishing with 129 yards on 39 carries (3.3 average). Drones had a solid first start for the Hokies as well, throwing for 190 yards (19-of-32) and rushing for 74 (on 22 attempts).
Surprisingly, Tech outgained Rutgers by 17 yards, 319 to 302, and won the time of possession battle, 33:47 to 26:13. The defense held the Scarlet Knights to just 46 yards through the air, too. However, Rutgers’ 256 yards on the ground was the second-most allowed in the Brent Pry era, only behind last season’s debacle at Pitt (326 yards).
The Hokies travel to Marshall (2-0) on Saturday, Sept. 23 for a noon ET kickoff on ESPN2. Virginia Tech has won the last nine against the Thundering Herd.
Box Score: Rutgers 35, Virginia Tech 16