Rutgers Routs UCF In St. Pete
by Dave Congrove
December 20, 2009
The inaugural St. Petersburg Bowl was friendly to the geographical home team last year when Tampa's USF beat Memphis 41-14 in front of a partisan crowd. This time the "home" team was outmanned and out-fanned as Rutgers routed Orlando's UCF 45-24.
Freshman WR Mohamed Sanu had two first-half rushing touchdowns from Rutgers' Wildcat formation, freshman QB Tom Savage had a career-best 294-yard throwing effort, and LB Damaso Munoz scored on an onside kick return.
UCF's best highlight was a 65-yard return of the opening kickoff, but the Golden Knights squandered the early scoring threat by tossing a pick on the third play of the drive. Rutgers then marched 48 yards in 8 plays to take a 7-0 lead. The Golden Knights responded with the first of two first-half TD passes from Brett Hodges to tie the score at 7-apiece, but that's as close as they would come for the rest of the game.
The deciding moment of the game occurred just before halftime. Rutgers was clinging to a 21-17 lead, but had UCF backed up at its own 13-yard line when Billy Anderson intercepted Hodges and returned it 19 yards for a 28-17 lead.
Rutgers opened the second half with a touchdown and a field goal on its first two possessions and never looked back. Only two-and-a-half minutes were left in the game when UCF finally scored again to make 38-24. But any hopes of a miraculous rally were quickly vanquished when Munoz returned the ensuing onside kick 37 yards for a Rutgers touchdown and the final points of the ballgame.
The Scarlet Knights improved their overall bowl record to 4-2 with their 4th straight bowl win.
The Golden Knights are still winless in three bowl trips.