Rutgers’ Teel leaves Wolfpack feeling blue
Published 6:51 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008
By By BOB JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — It’s Fitting that Rutgers would end the 2008 season with a come-from-behind win.
After winning only one of their first six games, Mike Teel and the Scarlet Knights erased an 11-point second half deficit to defeat North Carolina State 29-23 in the Papajohns.com Bowl on Monday.
Leading the comeback — as he did all season — was Teel, who passed for 319 yards and two touchdowns, including a 42-yard scoring toss to Kenny Britt to give the Scarlet Knights (8-5) the lead for good in the fourth quarter.
Teel’s pass to Britt with 8:30 to play proved to be the winning touchdown. Britt, a third-team All-American, made a juggling catch as he crossed the goal line and finished with six catches for 119 yards.
Teel, a senior, was the game’s most valuable player. He ended his career on a seven-game winning streak after being booed at home when he was struggling earlier in the season.
Schiano said he didn’t have to give his team much of a pep talk at the half.
NC State (6-7) held a 17-6 halftime, led by quarterback Russell Wilson who was 11-for-23 for 186 yards and a score. But Wilson left the game with a strained knee late in the first half and did not return.
His replacements were mostly ineffective and threw three interceptions to aid the Rutgers comeback. Wilson threw one interception all season.
North Carolina State coach Tom O’Brien said doctors recommended that Wilson not play in the second half.
But O’Brien would not blame the loss on the injury.
The Scarlet Knights scored 10 consecutive points in the third quarter on a 31-yard field goal by San San Te and an 11-yard pass from Teel to Tiquan Underwood.
Rutgers took a 19-17 lead with 13:31 to play on a 28-yard field by Te after a 10-play 70-yard drive.
The Wolfpack came right back as reserve quarterback Daniel Evans drove them 64 yards in eight plays and hit Anthony Hill with a 16-yard touchdown pass to give NC State a 23-19 lead.
But it was only two plays later when Teel hit Britt for the go-ahead score.
Rutgers got off to a fast start as cornerback Jason McCourty recovered a Wolfpack fumble on the first play from scrimmage. On the next play, Teel hit Underwood with a 22-yard pass and the Scarlet Knights drove to the NC State 6, where they lined up for a field goal.
The holder on the play, Rob Cervini, picked up the ball after the snap and scampered for the touchdown. The extra point attempt was blocked and Rutgers held an early 6-0 lead.
It was Cervini’s first play of his career.
But the Wolfpack dominated the rest of the first half behind Wilson passing and running. He had 46 yards rushing on eight carries before spraining his knee.
North Carolina State took the lead with 7:56 to play in the first quarter when Wilson completed a 44-yard touchdown pass to Owen Spencer, who broke free over the middle.
The Wolfpack stretched the lead to 10-6 on a 33-yard Josh Crajkowski field goal late in the first quarter. NC State finished the first half with a 13-play 80-yard drive that was capped with a 5-yard touchdown run by Andre Brown with 38 seconds to play in the half.
NC State turned the ball over four times, including one lost fumble and the three second-half interceptions.