Rutgers defeated Virginia Tech this afternoon behind a second straight career game from Kyle Monangai. The Scarlet Knights back ran for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 16 attempts against the Hokies. He dominated from his first carry, a 19-yard touchdown on Rutgers’ first offensive play.
After receiving the opening kick, it took just two plays for Virginia Tech to turn the ball over, as the inexperience of quarterback Kyron Drones showed, and a mishap on a handoff led to Wesley Bailey recovering an unforced fumble. Just a play later, Monangai ran in the aforementioned touchdown to give Rutgers a 7-0 lead.
Back-to-back punts ensued before the Hokies missed a 36-yard field goal to give the ball back to Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights couldn’t capitalize as the offense had stalled, and the first quarter ended with Rutgers ahead 7-0.
Virginia Tech cut the lead to 7-3, but after a 23-yard completion to Christian Dremel, Gavin Wimsatt broke a 34-yard run following a great lead block from Monangai put Rutgers back up 14-3.
On Drones’ next drop back, Rutgers safety Flip Dixon made a circus catch to intercept the pass and set the Scarlet Knights up with great field position near midfield. Once again though, Rutgers couldn’t capitalize, as stagnant offense plagued them and they went 3 and out.
Offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarocca turned to the run game on the last drive before the half, and the Scarlet Knights drove down the field with a combination of carries by Monangai and Wimsatt. A pass interference call set the offense up on the four-yard line, and Wimsatt completed a quick pass to Dremel for his only passing touchdown of the day, giving Rutgers a 21-3 advantage going into the half.
The Scarlet Knights offense went stale once again as the second half started, punting on three straight drives after halftime, allowing the Hokies to pull within 21-16 and put a win in serious jeopardy for Rutgers. The dual-threat ability of Drones was giving the defense serious issues, but once again, Kyle Monangai stepped up in a big way for the offense. A great play design by Ciarocca left the entire left half of the field open, and Monangai took one 55 yards all the way to the house, extending Rutgers' lead back to 12.
The Scarlet Knights forced a 4th and 12 for Virginia Tech and the Hokies could not convert, giving Rutgers the ball back with great field position. It was Monangai who put the game on ice, running on all 5 plays of the final drive for 46 yards, capping it off with a 12-yard touchdown to put the final dagger in Rutgers’ former Big East opponent.
It was Rutgers’ first win over V-Tech since 1992, as they’d dropped their last twelve meetings against the Hokies. They were able to put on a convincing show despite Wimsatt’s struggles through the air (7/16, 46 yards, 1 TD) because they won the turnover battle 2-0 and had a great rushing attack from both Monongai and Wimsatt. The latter ran for 87 yards and a touchdown, letting his legs pick up the slack for his arm this afternoon.
Rutgers was outgained 319 to 302, but the defense did a great job of playing bend-don’t-break, forcing multiple field goal attempts from Virginia Tech within the red zone, and holding them to 5-15 on third downs. Rutgers also sacked Kyron Drones several times, and even with him breaking off a few big runs, the Hokies ran for just 3.3 yards per carry.
The bottom line is that Rutgers is 3-0, 1-0 in the Big Ten, and in the best position anyone could hope for come mid-September. They face a tough matchup against Michigan next week at the Big House, but they’ve put themselves in a great spot to make a run at their first true bowl appearance since 2014.