Rice steals the show in Rutgers victory
TORONTO, On. - Ray Rice had a record-setting day to lead the heavily-favored Rutgers Scarlet Knights to a 52-30 victory over the Ball State Cardinals in the second annual International Bowl.
Rice scored four touchdowns, set a school record with 280 rushing yards and became just the fifth player to reach 2,000 rushing yards for a season in college football history, propelling Rutgers (8-5) to its second bowl victory in as many years.
Rice (2,012 yards) joins mega-stars Marcus Allen and Barry Sanders as well as Troy Davis and Damien Anderson in the 2,000-yard club. Now, the question becomes whether Rice will leave Rutgers and enter the NFL draft. He has to make that decision by Jan. 15. Rice heard chants of "one more year" from the pro-Rutgers crowd.
"Me and coach will sit down once we get back to Jersey and decide on that," Rice said. " It's always good to know your fans are behind you. I definitely think I did a lot for Rutgers and what they did for me, it was real warm out there. I just got really emotional, just that they cared for me so much.
The most exciting and most important play of the game took place early in the third quarter when Rice sprinted 90 yards down the sideline, stiff-arming a defender to stay on his feet, and scored a spectacular touchdown that put Rutgers up 31-9. While Ball State (7-6) cut the deficit to 31-16 on the next drive, the Cardinals had no answer for Rice and, therefore, no chance to win the game.
"That was very demoralizing for our whole football team," Ball State coach Brady Hoke said.
When Rutgers decided to give Rice a breather, quarterback Mike Teel rose to the occasion. He opened the game with a 36-yard touchdown strike to Tim Brown. Later, Teel found Tiquan Underwood for a 35-yard major and Kenny Britt for a 47-yarder. But the day was all about Rice.
"I've been around great, great running backs in college football and the National Football League and this guy today is second to none from what I've seen," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. " It was an amazing performance and one that shouldn't shock any of us because he's come close to it before.
"This guy is as respectful as they come. Not just because of what he does there between the white lines, but how he lives, how he leads. He and his family are very special to me. We're going to make a decision to try to get him all the information we can and he's going to make a decision. Whatever is best for this guy right here and his family is best for everybody. This guy here, we all owe a lot to, starting with me."
The overmatched Cardinals just couldn't keep pace with Rutgers. While Ball State quarterback Nate Davis fired three touchdown passes - two to Darius Hill and one to Dante Love - the Cardinals never got close enough to mount a serious challenge.
With the loss in its first bowl appearance in 11 years, Ball State dropped to 0-5-1 in bowl play.
"When a guy rushes for that many yards, albeit one for 90, you've got to do a better job tackling," Hoke said. "That has been sort of an Achilles Heel for us."