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Rutgers remains perfect, escapes against South Florida

Sep 30, 2006 - 3:39 AM TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Rutgers coach Greg Schiano pumped his first in an act equally weighted in elation and relief.

Ray Rice rushed for 202 yards and two touchdowns and Rutgers' defense held its ground on a late two-point conversion attempt en route to a 22-20 triumph over South Florida in the Big East Conference opener for both schools.

Rice carried 35 times, highlighted by a three-yard TD run in the first quarter and a seven-yard scoring scamper early in the fourth that put the 23rd-ranked Scarlet Knights ahead for good, 19-14.

Rutgers failed on the conversion pass, but Jeremy Ito kicked a 53-yard field goal with 7:02 to play to make it 22-14.

South Florida got within 22-20 with 15 seconds left as Matt Grothe found Ean Randolph for a 16-yard TD strike. But on the ensuing conversion attempt, Grothe's pass to Amp Hill was broken up by Devin McCourty, prompting Schiano to celebrate wildly on the sidelines.

The Bulls (3-2) still had a shot to recover an onside kick, but one of their players touched the ball before it went the required 10 yards.

Playing its first game as a ranked team since 1976, Rutgers also improved to 5-0 for the first time since that same season.

Grothe completed 16-of-25 passes for 241 yards. He threw two interceptions but also had the key touchdown pass in the final seconds in addition to a pair of rushing scores in the second quarter that helped give South Florida a 14-10 halftime lead.

Mike Teel went 11-of-20 for 100 yards with an interception. Dennis Campbell led Rutgers with four catches for 48 yards.

Thanks to Rice, who tied the school record with his seventh consecutive 100-yard rushing game, Rutgers was able to control the ball for more than 37 minutes. The Scarlet Knights also held a dominant 226-92 advantage in rushing yards.

South Florida captured last year's meeting - the first ever matchup between the schools - by virtue of a 45-21 road triumph.

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