Final Score: Rutgers 48 UMass 21
Brief Recap: It looked like Chris Ash might lose his job before halftime of the first game of the season. Rutgers trailed UMass 14-0 and 21-7 in the first quarter before finally getting into a rhythm on both sides of the football. The Scarlet nights rushed the ball well thanks to speedy sophomore Isaih Pacheco, and Raheem Blackshear and Bo Melton proved to be solid targets for transfer quarterback McLane Carter in his Rutgers debut. Once the Scarlet Knights got rolling, UMass couldn’t stop them.
Key Moment: Midway through the second quarter, with Rutgers trailing 21-14, Pacheco took a handoff 57 yards to the end zone, blowing past every UMass defender on the field. That’s the moment it felt like the Scarlet Knights could finally take control of the game and looked like a mismatch for the Minutemen.
Key Stat: In his debut as the quarterback for the Scarlet Knights, Carter completed 21-of-31 attempts for 340 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, he did throw three interceptions, which was an ugly mark for the evening, but Carter did show off a big arm and the ability to make a lot of different throws on the field. That’s something Rutgers didn’t have last year.
Key Player: Pacheco was no doubt the difference in this game. The sophomore rushed for 156 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries. He showed off his explosive speed more than once and made the UMass defense look silly at times on the field. Look to see a lot more of this kid throughout the season.
What it Means: Rutgers scoring 41 unanswered points against anyone is a major accomplishment. And overcoming a 14-0 deficit in the first quarter — even against a team like UMass — proves that there’s some fight with this team. But with a tough schedule upcoming, Rutgers can’t afford to get behind like it did Friday night. Playing catch-up isn’t going to work for a team that’s outmatched in talent frequently this season. It was a great sign that the Scarlet Knights had the weapons to crawl back into the game, but they’ve got to be crisp from the get-go this season.