Davila sparks Cincinnati to upset of unbeaten RutgersNov 19, 2006 - 4:08 AM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Nick Davila showed Rutgers what the value of senior leadership is all about.
Davila completed 11-of-15 passes for a career-high 277 yards and cornerback DeAngelo Smith returned an interception for an 84-yard touchdown as Cincinnati ended seventh-ranked Rutgers' bid for a perfect season with a 30-11 Big East Conference victory.
After coming off the bench to throw for 167 yards and two touchdowns in last week's loss to West Virginia, Davila - who also set a personal best in completions - led the Bearcats (6-5, 3-3 Big East) to their first win in five tries against top-10 opponents this season.
"I'm just caught up in the moment right now," Davila said. "I can't explain what's going on. It's the greatest scene in the world. I watched the Rutgers celebration last week. That's going to be us. This is where we're going. We've played a lot of ranked teams and we finally got one."
"Nick had a great week of practice," Cincinnati coach Mark Dantonio said. "I think he was due. He did a tremendous job of getting the ball off, throwing it downfield, running with it and controlling the game."
Entering fourth nationally in total defense (231.7) and scoring defense (10.9), Rutgers (9-1, 4-1) surrendered a season high in points while scoring a season low. The Scarlet Knights were denied in their bid for their first undefeated season since 1976.
"Did we make some mistakes? Yeah," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "But I don't think we made a ton of mistakes. More than in games we won. What we didn't do was capitalize on opportunities. I've been around long enough to know that you learn from this."
Coming off a dramatic comeback victory against Louisville on November 9, Rutgers fell into a three-way tie with the Cardinals and West Virginia in the race for the Big East championship. The Scarlet Knights meet Syracuse next Saturday before closing the regular season against the Mountaineers.
"When you win, you become the target," Schiano said. "But that's all part of it. Somehow, we'll benefit from it. But right now, young people don't want to hear that. ... It's so hard to be at your best each week and we weren't at our best tonight."
After Kevin Lovell opened the scoring for Cincinnati with a 32-yard field goal in the first quarter, Davila capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second period for a 10-0 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Scarlet Knights quarterback Mike Teel's pass was intercepted by Smith, who raced 84 yards to the end zone for a 17-0 advantage. It was Teel's 10th interception of the campaign.
"I was excited to make that play," Smith said. "It was all because of pressure from the defensive line. After I caught it, I knew I was going to score."
The teams traded field goals before the lefthanded Davila connected with Brent Celek for an 83-yard touchdown with 3:11 remaining in the third quarter, widening the Bearcats' margin to 27-3.
"I caught the ball and just started running," Celek said. "The guys got out there and blocked for me and that's all I can say. I wasn't hurt. I have a bad shoulder. So after the play, I just pretended to be hurt so the guys wouldn't jump all over me and hurt it again."
Cincinnati limited Rutgers to 288 yards on offense, including just 85 in the first half, while gaining 402 to become bowl eligible for the fifth time in seven years. The Bearcats face Connecticut next Saturday.
"I thought this was an outstanding job by our football team preparing for this game," Dantonio said. "We talked about how we had to take this game one inch at a time and that we had to celebrate the good things that were going to happen."
Despite becoming Rutgers' all-time single-season rushing leader (1,388), Ray Rice was held to just 54 yards on 18 carries, snapping a seven-game streak of 100-yard outings. He scored a one-yard TD late in the fourth quarter.
"As frustrating as it is, it's over," Rice said. "I have a smirk on my face because I'm a football player and I know what it's about. My clock started right now. I can't watch tape right now but Monday, I'll get ready for Syracuse. ... We have three more games."
Teel finished 21-of-42 for 238 yards and four interceptions for the Scarlet Knights, who fell to 1-4-1 here all-time.
"Give them credit," Teel said. "They played a hard, physical game. There was nothing we could do. We just didn't get it done."
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