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The Schiano bowl: Rutgers NFL alums of Past vs Present

It’s a pretty good battle, even though the old timers have 132 years of players versus the younger’s 15.

Kansas City Chiefs v San Francisco 49ers
Cherry would lead the past team into battle.
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

Rutgers is the birthplace of college football and has had many ups and downs since 1869. That being said, the program really turned a corner after Greg Schiano took the helm in 2000. The team has produced many professional players including a huge influx of talent to the next level after the magical 2006 season.

Since Knights fans have no bowl game of their own to tune into this season, we matched up the former Knights who made the pros recruited prior to Schiano against those who came after. Players are bigger and stronger than ever, but we will do our best to make it exciting. So grab a beverage, that faded letter sweater, and your game program to follow the action!

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers
Anthony Davis’s size and quickness while blocking proves difficult in any era, on display in three straight NFC title games and SB XLVII.
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The pregame:

Dubbed “Garden State Bowl V”, the expected crowd large enough for the Meadowlands had to be squeezed when the game was moved back to Rutgers Stadium after protests from virtually every player. The old timers also had another request, that Chris Carlin not be behind the microphone, but rather unfairly dismissed longtime radio voice of Knights football and basketball, Bruce Johnson announce the action. That was accepted and Eric LeGrand would join him in the booth at kickoff.

After a tremendous rendition of the national anthem by Paul Robeson, the coin is hand delivered by Vinnie Utz. The “Wizard of Utz” parachutes onto the field to a cannon blast from a plane piloted by Walter Winika and modified by Alan Andrews organization. The toss featured Alex Kroll and Bill Pellington representing the old-timers. Pellington said he was glad he did not have to hitchhike to the game and informed Kroll he had no intention of playing on the offensive line. Kroll, ruled eligible while Harvey Grimsley was not, accepted and responded that he and Jim Guarantano were glad there were enough police around this big game so they didn’t need to put on that uniform as well over the weekend. The team opts for the helmets they wore as players and jerseys supplied by Glen Kehler, stylistically similar to the 1995 NFL pro bowl but instead featuring The Rutgers block R on the sleeve.

Eric LeGrand and both McCourty brothers represent the millennials. Despite the noon kickoff, the recent grads dress in their blackout F.A.M.I.L.Y. uniforms. LeGrand calls the flip by Thomas Barr, but it is won by the old timers who inform referee Al Garrett they will receive.

On the field, Gary Brackett, Nate Jones, and LJ Smith are talking to former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese and senator George Large (who played in 1869), trying to figure out which team they are on. Robert Barchi discusses the state of the university with Philip Brett nearby. Chris Ash is walking with Gary and Bo Melton, in street clothes, from the old timer sideline to the millennials.

1st quarter

After Schiano’s ploy to use Lee McDonald as his placekicker fails due to his college career ending in 1999, Mohamed Sanu is immediately pressed into service for the kickoff. A retreating Reggie Stephens (subbing for Nate Jones not yet in uniform) only returns the opening kick to the 30 after a vicious hit by Joe Young results in the rowdy crowd quieting down confused until they realize it’s Joe ‘Lefeged’. Lucas gets the start at quarterback for the old-timers who seem a little slow (also without Willis, left off the 53 man gameday roster in a close vote). The lethargy is understandable since they walked from the Barn and through Johnson Park to the stadium. Eric Foster and George Johnson in the backfield every play didn’t help either. Eric Young Sr. is seen trading cleats with Jawaun Harris as Scott Erney in a Barcelona ‘92 Olympic t-shirt reviews the plays with him. The young group does a lot of pre-snap shifting that confuses the offensive line. Cherry lines up to punt, but the millenials not knowing Deron was a punter at RU expect fake, allowing the kick to roll all the way inside their own 10 before being downed by Keith Woetzel.

The younger generation, perhaps motivated by Eric LeGrand leading them onto the field after the short walk from the [Dick] Hale center are energized by the three and out. Savage comes out in a two-back, three receiver set firing to his slot man, Carroo, who is simply too quick for the cover 2 old-timer defense, not electing to play a nickel. Mixing in a few runs by Rice and Leonard, Carroo ends up the recipient of a 15 yard TD on a third and short when the old timers had sold out for a run. The ensuing two-point conversion is a success as Savage finds Kroft on a curl. Millenials 8, Old Timers 0.

The teams trade punts thanks to tremendous linebacker from Stowe, Brackett, Webster on one side and DB play by Bing, Ryan, and Harmon on the other. The next drive the Old Timers are able to almost reach midfield behind a nice run by JJ Jennings and pass interference flag after a deceptive double move and resulting acting job by Robeson, but are forced to punt. Their first punt is blocked by Jason McCourty and run back for a touchdown by Marcus Cooper, but they are called offside. The five yard penalty is not enough for a first and it remains 4th down as the quarter comes to an end.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Miami Dolphins
Carroo is a tough matchup.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

2nd quarter:

Cherry’s second punt pins the milennials deep in their own territory again. Savage consistently finds Sanu over the middle with defenders seemingly draped all over him. He can’t break any for a big gain because the old timers have Ed Jones deep to double cover against Kenny Britt. These short passes get the younger squad into the red zone. They go with a full house backfield heavy package. Leonard leaps over Jim Dumont on his way to the house on a screen being blocked by Michael Burton. Schiano’s squad decides to go for 2 again, but a rollout pass to Brandon Coleman falls incomplete. Millenials 14, Old Timers 0.

Riding in on a tandem bicycle with Sam Mudie and dodging the cannon blast from the TD, Bill Austin doesn’t pass on the pros a second time, and grabs on a helmet replacing "Toady" Bracher who again never gets a shot. Frank Burns puts a helmet on as well, hands the headset over to Rockafellar who initially looks perplexed. Then Harry realizes he needs to replace himself also so he sends in Marco Battaglia at the direction of Mike Wittpenn. Inserting Flinging Frank at QB to ensure the team can run the single wing proves effective, as the old timers drive it down to score behind some key blocks from Homer Hazel, now at fullback, and James Jenkins in as a blocking tight end. The recommended switch by David Bender of O’Hara to center, Kroll to tackle, and Larry Christoff to tight end proves effective for Grossman to follow into the end zone to silence taunts from the student section questioning his toughness. Grossman played professional soccer and baseball in Latin America outside of his time in the NFL. Talman’s extra point is good as well. Millenials 14, Old Timers 7.

The young guys come right back, but Carroo makes a one handed catch and is injured on a hit by Art Gottlieb. The pass was underthrown resulting in a 4th down rather than touchdown. The Jr. Knights line up for a field goal with Clark Harris snapping. It’s a fake and DC Jefferson hauls it in at the goal line from the holder DePaola, but the play is called back for an illegal man downfield penalty. The team lines up to go for it, but Sanu pooches it instead.

The old timers come out again featuring a number of running plays as Lucas lines up with Bruce Van Ness, and “the Train” getting carries. The drives takes up too much time and a miscommunication between Burns’s delegate Tom Holmes and Harvey Harmon results in poor clock management. A frustrated Guarantano was open on the play, but is informed on the sideline that McMichael told Lucas not to throw to the Tennessee supporter and instead an acrobatic catch by Andrew Baker on a pass intended for Bucky Hatchett is ruled incomplete. Falcinelli’s field goal is good as the half ends. Millenials 14, Old Timers 10.

Super Bowl XLIV
Undrafted Brackett, RU walk-on, has played in many big games, including Super Bowl XLIV.
Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

3rd quarter: Inspired by a speech from Schiano and an adjustment moving Kaleb Johnson to guard inserting Haslam at tackle by Kyle Flood, the Milennials come out inspired. They keep on chopping; pounding the rock in a Wild Knight formation filled with motion, and featuring D.C. Jefferson, Tiquan Underwood, and Sanu all getting snaps. Anthony Davis simply manhandles the fringe old time edge defenders.

After punching it in for six on a hot route toss to Graves as Dan Gray was in the backfield, an unidentified long haired player wearing number 10 races on the field forcing fans to flip through their game programs. The zebras look up to the booth and see James Gandolfini give the thumbs up. Seated next to him is Bill Belichick so the officials immediately call a timeout to weigh the footballs. This gives the fans time to acknowledge gold medal soccer player Carli Lloyd as this team’s version of Lucy, from Necessary Roughness. Her kick is good: Millenials 21, Old Timers 10.

The Old Timers come out again in a heavy set, but Schiano counters by playing a 60 front with Westerman and Freeny playing as linebackers up at the line of scrimmage and J’Vonne Parker clogging the middle. The tactic works and on 3rd down free roaming Khaseem Greene forces a fumble, but somehow Andy Tighe is able to recover against Gary Gibson, dodging a bullet. As they line up to punt after talking to stat man John DeWitt about the team’s horrific passing stats, Bateman makes a call to Terry Shea, allowing him to enter the stadium on the condition he is only allowed to talk to the team’s quarterbacks, namely Mike McMahon.

Tom Savage is still mysteriously missing from the sideline, though no injury has been reported. After needing a rest after a few strong carries, Rice is replaced by Jawan Jamison, who looks just not quite ready for action tackled twice by Dino Mangiero. On a third down and long, after a key block by Zuttah, Teel finds a streaking Britt who outraces the secondary across the field and down the sideline until he is caught by Nate Jones who seemingly ran all the way from Santa Cruz to bring down the ball carrier. An angry Nate Toran informs his team that Jim Hughes would have made the tackle. The charge produces sacks by Pickel and Swinger, plus a pass break up by Bellamy so Schiano elects to go for it without confidence in a 45 yard field goal. Rice back in the game miraculously converts a 4th and 29 down to the 6. But after the play Rice is ejected for unnecessary roughness when he gets into it with Carl Howard. Teel’s third down pass out of a no back set falls incomplete. Lloyd comes on and the field goal is blocked by another player not on the initial roster, former Knight basketball star Rashod Kent who played briefly for the Houston Texans.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons
Sanu’s abilities as a possession receiver have proved key wherever he has played.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

4th quarter:

After Lucas and JJ Jennings make a few nice option runs with the momentum, and a reverse to Marshall Roberts, the Old Timers have it 3rd and 10 at the opposing 39. A broken play supposed to be a deep slant to the back of the end zone a la Bert Kosup sees Herman Hering ran opposite of Lucas who scrambles left and takes it all the way to the pylon for an apparent touchdown! After review, as he his examined by the trainers, Lucas is ruled down at the 1 yard line. Eventually behind a block from “Nasty” Nash, Benkert takes it in for a touchdown. Talman’s kick is blocked though by a McCourty with no return. Millennials 21, Old Timers 16.

Teel really opens it up without the threat of Rice, surprising the opposition who expected all runs with the lead in the 4th. Operating with Leonard as a single back, they rotate receivers and Lloyd comes on and buries the field goal this times as the team gets conservative in the red zone. Millennials 24, Old Timers 16.

An injured Lucas with Carlin in his ear can only watch as this time it is Mike McMahon rather than Bryan Fortay (who didn’t make the active roster) that took control of the offense. McMahon hits a number of short passes, particularly to LJ Smith who seems uncoverable setting up a long pass to Battaglia on the other side. The Milennials depth is challenged as the old timers don’t seem to be limited in the players they are using. Harry Swayne at tackle is the only player that has played every snap on either side of the ball, also getting time on the defensive line in short yardage. A tackle by Courtney and Kasheem Greene on an Eric Young reverse forces a fourth and one. Falcinelli’s field goal is good. Millennials 24, Old Timers 19.

Without Rice, the young guns turn to Leonard to try and run out the clock but he is stopped on first down by John Alexander and a screen to Kevin Brock is stopped for no gain by Stowe who now has 20 tackles forcing a third and long. Teel’s pass intended for Tim Wright (who had replaced Underwood moments before the crucial play) is then tipped by Don Harris over the middle that would have iced the game, but is instead intercepted by Deron Cherry. Wright was seen on the sidelines insisting he would have it if Chas Dodd had been in the game and not in Italy.

Down 5, with 5 seconds left on the clock, McMahon’s pass falls into the arms of Chris Brantley for a touchdown! When asked about it after the game, Kivlehan could only say he was thinking of a fly baseball while initially obstructing Harmon and Ryan in pursuit. The milennials say that the ensuing extra point is required, but the fans are already on the field, and they taste defeat. Old Timers 25, Millennials 24.

Some players participate in a prayer circle led by Bill Leggett as Kyle Flood informs the media Schiano was “recruiting or talking to someone in Florida” during the fateful final seconds and that his team would attempt to go 1-0 next week as Jack Emmer shakes his head in the crowd. Then Devin McCourty took over and thanked the opponents for such a good game, but acknowledged he should have moved himself to safety and had confidence his group could have blocked a final kick attempt.

NFC Championship: New York Giants v Green Bay Packers
O’Hara, undrafted, celebrated victory in the Super Bowl next.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The rosters:

Old-timers 46 men in BOLD.

QB: Lucas, McMahon, Frank Burns, DND: Erney (WFL), Leo Gascienica (WFL), Mike Yancheff (WFL)

RB: Benkert, Grossman, Bill “the Train” Tranavitch, Talman, Van Ness (CFL), Jennings, Hazel (WFL), Willis, Austin, Presley (NFL Europe) Waite, Mudie, Price, Nick Prisco

WR: Brantley, E. Young, Rockafeller, Robeson, Guarantano (CFL), Marshall Roberts (Arena), did not dress: Dorn, Tim Odell

TE: Battaglia, LJ, Jenkins, Kent, Andrews

OL: Swayne, O’Hara, Kroll, Alexander, Nash, Duft, Christoff, Andy Tighe (WFL), Robert Barr, Steve Tardy

DL: Pickel, Mangiero, Swinger, Alexander (‘76), Toran, Budge Garrett, Dan Gray, K Bryant, Peaches Heenan, Ed Steward,

LB: Stowe, Brackett, Pellington, Woetzel, Bob Simms, Catanho, Giddings, Lee Schneider, Webster

DB: Stephens, Carl Howard, Cherry, Bellamy, Ed Jones, Don Harris, Nate Jones DND: Ken Smith, Ron Allen

Specialists: Falcinelli, Slovan, Bus Terrill

Injured: Kevin Kurdyla, Overseas: Mike Kushinka, Posing for football card: Jimmy Monahan Ineligible Hall of Famers: By O’Hearn, Bryant Mitchell, Samuel Picketts, Rich Poliucastro, Henry Pryor, Earl Read, Ken Rendall, Ralph Schmidt, Tony Hoeflinger, Steve Simms, John Toohey, Arnie Truex, Al Twitchell, Shawn Williams

Super Bowl XLIII
Stapleton’s NFL career was cut short by injury but not before he won Super Bowl XLIII.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

The millennials:

QB: Tom Savage, Teel, Dodd (IFL, inactive)

RB: Ray Rice, Brian Leonard, Burton, Jamison, D’Imperio, Martinek

WR: Britt, Sanu, Coleman, Underwood, Carroo, Pratt

TE: Wright, Brock, Kroft, Harris, Jefferson, Shamar Graves (Arena)

OL: Zuttah, A. Davis, Stapleton, Haslam, K. Johnson, Wynn, Stephenson, Sameeh McDonald (NFL Europe) Pedro Sosa, Ryan Blaszczyk (UFL), Mike Fladell (UFL),

DL: Johnson, Foster, Gibson, Neill, J’Vonne Parker, Orr, Silvestro, Glaud, Francis, Vallone

LB: Freeny, Westerman, Greene, Malast, Gause, Longa, Beauharnis

DB: McCourty, McCourty, Cooper, Ryan, Harmon, Lefeged-Young, Bing, C Greene, Porter, Roberson, Kivlehan, Deering

Specialists: DePaola, Mike Barr, Lloyd

Injured: Ineligible: Turzilli, Dill, Barbieri, Lumpkin, Darnell Stapleton

Swayne had his hands full in Super Bowl XXIX, but would later win with Denver and Baltimore.