Westerman key in Rutgers' win over ConnecticutOct 30, 2006 - 5:06 AM PISCATAWAY, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Defensive end Jamaal Westerman helped provide some instant offense for Rutgers.
Westerman forced a fumble and blocked a punt - both leading to touchdowns - as the 15th-ranked Scarlet Knights posted a 24-13 victory over Connecticut in a Big East Conference matchup.
Defensive back Manny Collins returned a fumble for a score and linebacker Quintero Frierson recovered a blocked punt for a TD for Rutgers (8-0, 3-0 Big East).
Already owning a 7-0 edge, the Scarlet Knights added to the margin when Westerman forced a fumble by Huskies quarterback D.J. Hernandez. After a wild skirmish, Collins picked up the ball and returned it for a 10-yard TD 2:41 into the second quarter.
"It's a good thing because you get the crowd into it, which gets the whole team excited," Collins said. "Once a big play is made, the crowd gets right back into it and that hurts the other team's offense because they can't hear the playcalls and checkdowns."
After the Huskies closed within 17-13, Westerman blocked a punt by Chris Pavasaris on the Connecticut 20. Frierson landed on the ball in the end zone for a TD, extending the lead to 11 with 8:36 remaining in the game.
"I saw the ball pop out the second time and all I saw was a little ball in a big end zone and I tried to jump on it," Frierson said. "That play shifted the momentum in the game. Everyone went out there chopping on all three cylinders: offense, defense, and special teams."
Rutgers' defense forced three turnovers and collected six sacks.
"I wasn't looking at (the blocked punt) as a game-changing play," Westerman said. "It was a play that needed to be made and we worked on it all week, so I came free and blocked the punt. When we got back on defense, we had to stop them again, so it's not like that was the biggest play of game."
Ray Rice ran for 79 yards and a score for the Scarlet Knights, who have won two straight over the Huskies (3-5, 0-3).
"It was an up and down game," Rice said. "UConn played a great game. You have to give them a lot of credit. The key for us was that we got off to a fast start and it really helped us a lot. Different guys stepped up to the plate today and that was big."
Donald Brown II collected 199 yards and two TDs on 27 carries for Connecticut, which fell to 0-9 all-time against ranked opponents.
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