First off, I would like to shout out all of the fans who made it out to the game Saturday. I will not be shaming anyone who decided against attending nor any fan who decided to leave early. The conditions were horrendous and the first three quarters were some of the most frustrating football I have witnessed.
So let me set the scene for you...
The rain is unrelenting. It’s a cold rain that has soaked through my jacket, hoodie, and t-shirt. Three quarters into a homecoming game, a game that is absolutely must-win, and I am miserable. This is arguably the least fun three quarters of watching football I have ever experienced. Rutgers offense looks anemic. The defense seems to be wearing down. The refs straight up suck (the Tyreem Powell targeting call... REALLY??!!). I am as close to rock bottom as I can be heading into the fourth quarter. Our team is down 24-6, I’ve seen this show before. It’s just not our day. Everything that could go wrong has. Michigan State has our number I guess. I am looking to my friends around me with desperation and questions such as “What now?” and “Where do we go from here?” I am not proud to say it, but i have to admit. I was certainly questioning this team as it seemed the dream of a bowl game was slipping away before our very eyes. But then something incredible happened...
HE FUMBLED THE SNAP!!! RUTGERS RECOVERS FOR A TOUCHDOWN!!!
Oh my god oh my god oh my god. The first time all day we the ball bounces our way and it is MASSIVE. I could physically feel the momentum shifting. I look up at the scoreboard and see 24-13 with 14:41 on the clock. My brain starts to feed me thoughts of “Lotta time left. Can we do this?” I didn’t want to get ahead of myself or jinx it, but I was ready to fight again. My group and I were up on our feet and GETTING LOUD. Three and out! I won’t say it was all because of the energy we were now bringing, but you can’t prove it didn’t help.
Rutgers offense returns to the field. Let’s see what we can come up with here. Wait, what’s this? We’re moving the ball? The O-line is moving people. Wimsatt finally looks comfortable. Monangai looks like he did in the first few games. The Scarlet Knights put together a long drive and it is capped off by a beautiful throw and tie tap catch from Gavin Wimsatt to Isaiah Washington. I love to see a senior like Washington who has been here his entire career make a big play like that.
24-21 WE’RE SO BACK!
Wimsatt ➡️ Washington for 6️⃣— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) October 15, 2023
Wimsatt ➡️ Dremel for 2️⃣ pic.twitter.com/RUMVS417lE
Rutgers lines up for the kickoff and Michigan State lines up in a peculiar formation. Clearly expecting an onside kick MSU lines up with 10 men at 10 yards from the ball. They had done this on the previous kickoff and Rutgers kicked it deep. After that I said “they should pooch kick it to the 25 or so and try to beat the Spartans to the ball.” Ask anyone I really did say this, I swear. So this time, Rutgers does pooch it! Thomas Amankwaa is flying up the field and rips the ball away from the MSU returner!! I FREAKING CALLED IT. This team has never been more back. We are going to do this, it is now our game to win. The Spartans are on their heels. Time to take control.
Now comes the part of the story where Kyle Monan-he is THAT-gai takes over. First play of that drive he takes the hand off, makes a cut, and will not be denied the end zone. “is this really happening?” We have taken the lead! BUT WAIT... there’s still over 8 minutes left on the clock. Time for the defense to seal it. Another defensive stop fueled by the rain soaked fans ’exemplary cheers, and now the offense has the ball again. Let’s burn some clock. Greg Schiano must have made a call to the bullpen because Kyle Monangai turned into the Closer. Monangai gets going down hill on every carry. He is carrying multiple defenders with him on every play. The Spartans are now out of time outs. Greg Schiano makes an excellent coaching decision to get into Victory formation, but has Gavin wait to take the knee to burn clock. Two more kneels and the game is over.
A wave of happiness comes over me. I rush over to the tunnel from my area in Section 129 (about the 10-15 yard line behind the Rutgers bench, closer to the Student Section. Yes great seats, I am fully aware). Watching the joy of the Rutgers players and coached as they danced on the field is something I will never forget. I screamed the alma mater as best i could with my voice starting to fade from all the noise I was bringing throughout that fourth quarter. We cheered the team on as they entered the tunnel to continue the celebration in the locker room. Man, how can you not be romantic about Rutgers football?
How can you not be romantic about Rutgers football? pic.twitter.com/BjC0XSM9yy— Francis Hearne (@FrancisHearne) October 16, 2023
Shoutout to two of my best friends Tim and Morgan Cody for these pictures and videos both capturing the excitement of the moment and proving we stayed until the end of this game.