PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Paul James ran for 192 yards and three touchdowns and Rutgers defeated Eastern Michigan 28-10 on Saturday when the Scarlet Knights honored the paralyzed Eric LeGrand by retiring his No. 52 jersey.
It marked the first time in the 144-year history of the birthplace of college football that the university retired the number of a football player and this one was clearly loved by all in attendance.
James made sure everyone went home happy, scoring on runs of 13, 55 and 52 yards as the Scarlet Knights (2-1) won their second straight and handed Eastern Michigan (1-2) its second consecutive loss.
Quron Pratt returned a kickoff 99 yards for the Scarlet Knights, who lost starting quarterback Gary Nova to an undisclosed injury after their first series.
Ryan Brumfield scored on a 43-yard pass from Tyler Benz on a flea-flicker for Eastern Michigan and Dylan Mulder added a 39-yard field goal, but missed two other makeable attempts.
The game was a lot closer than the final score in large part because Rutgers’ offense was stagnant after Chas Dodd replaced Nova. The difference was the big runs by James, who has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the opening three games. The former walk-on did it this time on just 21 carries.
Nova hit all four of his passes for 40 yards on the Scarlet Knights’ game-opening 87-yard drive, which James capped with a 13-yard run around the left side.
Mulder cut the lead to four points on the Eagles’ opening series, but Pratt took the ensuing kickoff at the 1-yard line and was never touched in going to the house for a 14-3 lead.
The rest of the half belonged to Eastern Michigan with the razzle-dazzle second-quarter play getting them back in the game. Brumfield took the snap in the shotgun position and started to circle the right end. He lateralled the ball to Benz on the left side of the field and the quarterback passed it back to him. With Rutgers out of position, all Brumfield had to do was avoid one tackle and it was 14-10.
Mulder missed a 31-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the half.
The intermission belonged to LeGrand, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a game against Army in 2010. His No. 52 was retired and he told the crowd he still believed he will walk again.
James put the game out of reach in the second half when he scored on a 55-yard run down the left sideline on the Scarlet Knights’ opening series. The sophomore closed out the scoring with his 52-yard run in the fourth quarter, this time going down the right sideline.
Dodd finished 4 of 9 for 45 yards in a game that Eastern Michigan outgained Rutgers 373-274.
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