Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rutgers' Skid Grinds to a Halt

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rutgers' Skid Grinds to a Halt

Article excerpt

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Rutgers took full advantage of college football's equivalent of a governor's reprieve.

After being slammed around on four consecutive weekends by upper- echelon Big Ten Conference teams, the schedule maker presented the Scarlet Knights the opportunity to play struggling Army West Point on Saturday at Michie Stadium.

And Rutgers enjoyed every minute.

With Paul James running for 116 yards and three touchdowns and with a defense, which had tire tracks on its back after its exposure to nationally ranked offenses, finally doing its part, Rutgers jumped on the team buses for the ride home with a 31-21 victory.

On a day when The Citadel shocked South Carolina and Florida Atlantic took Florida to overtime, the Scarlet Knights were upset- proof.

"Winning helps everything," said head coach Kyle Flood, who needed a win to silence his critics for another week. "Now it's a one-game season [Saturday at home against Maryland]. I hear a lot about 5-7 teams being in bowl games, but I know there's a lot of games that have to be played so I'm not focused on that right now."

He might be if his team beats Maryland to improve to 5-7. The NCAA's mandate that bowl teams have at least six victories could be tested if there aren't enough .500-plus teams to fill 40 bowl slots.

The irony of this win over 2-9 Army is that running back Josh Hicks, the MVP of Rutgers' bowl game win over North Carolina last season, was one of this game's most valuable players with his play on defense.

With free safety Anthony Cioffi suspended earlier in the week for violating team rules, Flood convinced Hicks, who was coveted by many schools as a defensive back coming out of high school in Palmetto, Fla., to move to the other side of the ball.

Hicks responded with six tackles, a fumble recovery to set up a touchdown, and an end-zone interception that ended Army's last scoring chance. …

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