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WATCH: Rutgers Scarlet Knights win defensive battle vs. Syracuse Orange

Sep 11, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange wide receiver Trebor Pena (29) goes to recover a muffed punt return as Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive back Max Melton (16) and Rutgers Scarlet Knights long snapper Billy Taylor (47) come in during the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange wide receiver Trebor Pena (29) goes to recover a muffed punt return as Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive back Max Melton (16) and Rutgers Scarlet Knights long snapper Billy Taylor (47) come in during the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive back Max Melton forced a pair of turnovers as visiting Rutgers did enough in the second half to record a 17-7 victory over host Syracuse on Saturday afternoon.

The Scarlet Knights improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2014 – their first season in the Big Ten and most recent appearance in a bowl game.

Rutgers eventually got enough done in a game in which neither team scored until there was 6:46 remaining in the third quarter. The teams were a combined 5-for-29 on third downs.

After guiding eight scoring drives in last week’s 61-14 rout of Temple, Noah Vedral (22 of 28 for 145 yards, touchdown) guided three scoring drives that resulted in points being scored in different ways.

Kyle Monangai scored on an 11-yard touchdown for the game’s first points and Vedral connected with Jovani Haskins for a 30-yard TD in the final seconds of the third. Valentino Ambrosio made a 27-yard field goal for Rutgers’ final points.

Melton blocked a punt in the first half and then sealed the win with an interception with 41 seconds left.

Syracuse (1-1, 0-0 ACC) was unable to do much offensively — no matter who it used as quarterback.

Tommy Devito completed 15 of 26 passes for 149 yards while Garret Shrader played two series in the first half. He was 4-of-6 for 42 yards.

Taj Harris finished with eight receptions for 122 yards and Sean Tucker rushed for 54 yards and a TD. The Orange maintained possession for only 24:04.

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Syracuse missed two chances to score the game’s first points in the final minute of the first half. On first-and-10 from the Rutgers 38, Shrader’s pass to an open Courtney Jackson was incomplete. Right before halftime, Andre Szmyt missed a 43-yard field goal with nine seconds left.

After Syracuse coach Dino Babers was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Monangai gave Rutgers a 7-0 lead with 6:46 remaining. On the ensuing drive, Devito completed a 51-yard pass to Harris to set up Tucker’s game-tying 24-yard score with 5:54 remaining.

The Scarlet Knights regained the lead at 14-7 with 24 seconds left when Vedral found a wide open Haskins up the middle for a 30-yard TD.

Immediately after Ambrosio’s miss, Devito was stripped in the pocket by Mayan Ahanotu and the fumble was recovered by CJ Onyechi at the Syracuse 10. A little over two minutes later, Ambrosio booted a 27-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead.

–Field Level Media