It’s week four of our new feature highlighting past games that occurred this week in Rutgers football history. After last week’s victory, the Knights have a little hop in their step as they travel west to Nebraska. And we take a look back at....
This Week....in Rutgers....Football....History (*echoing* history...history....history)
Last year: The one that got away. Iowa, 14-7. Rutgers fumbled the ball in its own territory with 8:42 on the clock, and on the very next play Iowa took the lead on a a 26-yard touchdown run by Akrum Wadley to go ahead for good. Chris Laviano was 13-for-24 passing for 190 yards and a touchdown. RU was stopped on fourth-and-2 from the Iowa 17-yardline and the Hawkeyes burned the remaining 4:40 of clock to take the win. Running back Robert Martin led the Scarlet in rushing for the second-straight game with 106 yards on 21 attempts.
1996: Fair warning - this is still the Terry Shea era. On September 21, RU traveled to Blacksburg for a Big East game against the No. 18/16 Hokies. The good news? Rutgers scored....twice. Bad news? VT scored several more times, putting the Knights at 1-3 after the 30-14 loss. Rutgers had 41 net yards rushing on the day, yet actually scored a rushing TD, that by QB Corey Valentine on a one-yard dive. Like I said, the Terry Shea era.
1976: Good year....all wins! Rutgers was coming off a season opening win at Navy and was facing Bucknell on September 18 at home. The 19-7 victory over the Bison was win number nine on the way to 18 consecutive victories over the 1975-76 seasons. The Bison turned the ball over twice in the first half leading to two Rutgers TDs by Mike Fisher. QB Bert Kosup had 126 passing yards.
1970: September 19 - It was a matchup between two of the “Middle Three” schools as Lafayette traveled to Piscataway. On its way to a 5-5 record, the Knights opened the season with a solid 41-16 win over the Leopards. Extra credit if you know the third school of the Middle Three.
Cover art is a big draw to collectors. I particularly liked the work of Bill Canfield (above); his work was on a lot of RU material and he also was a staff artist for the Newark Evening News and later the Star Ledger.
On a separate note about football programs, I have a suggestion for Pat Hobbs....I’ll wait while he gets a paper and pen. Bring back these photos in the program (below).
If you want to honor history and tradition, this is a classic - and classy - way to do it. Team captains, standing in front of Old Queens, hands on the “Princeton” cannon. No need to thank me, just make it so.
1968: September 21 - Once again Lafayette opens the season with Rutgers in New Jersey. It was also Douglass College’s 50th Anniversary ,and that was highlighted in the program for the day’s game.
On its way to an 8-2 finish, the Knights topped the Leopards by a 37-7 count. That season Rutgers would lose only to Army and Cornell, a Cornell squad led by New Jersey native Ed Marinaro (yup, that’s him in our lead photo). With a tip of the OTB hat to Mike Pellowski (yes, same guy in that captains’ photo above), we get a brief recap from his book, Rutgers Football: A Gridiron Tradition in Scarlet.
The Rutgers-Lafayette game was played in blazing heat of nearly 100 degrees. After a scoreless first period, Bryant Mitchell and Mel Brown scored touchdowns for Rutgers. In the second half, Al Fenstermacher caught his first varsity touchdown pass. Rich Policastro came in for Bruce Van Ness at quarterback and fired his first two touchdown passes at Rutgers.
1956: September 22 - It was the season opener for both teams as the Battling Bishops traveled to Piscataway. For the record, the Bishops currently play D3 football. Rutgers won the game 33-13.
It was this program, and a bunch of the other older ones I own, that sparked the idea for this series. One of the great things about the older programs was the writing inside. There were stories - a good many of them - about the game, the teams, and what went on off the field. Today, programs tend to be ad journals with some stats and the rosters. Nothing near the feel of the older ones. A note on the table of contents page apologizes for the need to raise the price of the program to 35 cents, still lower, it notes, than “the 50 cents charged at most other eastern schools”.
1956 was the year that Rutgers became Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. And to highlight my point about the writing, ponder this from the short piece on page two on becoming the State University:
This challenge [becoming the State University] is the overwhelming numbers of students who will undoubtedly be storming Rutgers gates within the next 10 years. As Dr. Lewis Webster Jones, president of the State University, and other educators have pointed out, these students are not mere statistics but real flesh and blood already in the public schools and headed toward college. Rutgers enrollment, it is believed, will triple in from 10 to 15 years.
To handle these unprecedented numbers, Rutgers must have buildings, equipment and faculty. In recent years it has done some catching up - witness the new $4,000,000 University Library and the $4,200,000 dormitory-classroom project - but it needs much more. Reorganization was the next necessary step toward full State University status and an understanding by the people of the State that Rutgers is their university and their responsibility. [Emphasis added]
Interesting comment. It might need to be repeated today.
Oh, that dormitory-classroom project mentioned? The river dorms, as noted in one of two ads by contractors on the project.
Next week: Rutgers hosts Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes and we’ll look at what happened the week of Sept. 24-30 in Rutgers....Football....History (*echoing* history...history....history)