PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Johnathan Lewis tries not to pay attention to the hype around him from Rutgers’ fan base.
It’s going to be a bit harder now.
The freshman quarterback ran for four touchdowns and passed for another in part-time action Saturday, and Rutgers defeated Morgan State 65-0 to snap an 11-game losing streak.
Lewis took only five first-half snaps and didn’t lead a full drive until late in the third quarter, but the highly touted recruit gave a potential glimpse of the future in the victory.
“That’s what I’m supposed to do,” Lewis said. “I’m supposed to score, supposed to get points on the board and that’s what I did. Help contribute.”
The last win for Rutgers (1-2) was nearly a year ago, when it defeated New Mexico 37-29, before ending the season on a nine-game skid and going winless in the Big Ten.
“It definitely feels good,” running back Robert Martin said about snapping the losing streak. “Nobody likes losing. All the hard work and preparation we put in, we want to go out and execute every Saturday to make our coaches happy, fans happy, but we came up short, but we’re turning that page and we want to keep building off of this win when we go out to Nebraska next Saturday.”
After gaining 22 yards and one first down on the first two drives against the FCS Bears (0-3), Rutgers’ offense was sparked by Martin’s 13-yard touchdown run to cap a drive in which the running back had four carries for 32 yards.
Kyle Bolin (11-of-17 passing for 140 yards) threw a touchdown pass to Jerome Washington before Lewis came in and threw his first collegiate pass to Nakia Griffin-Stewart, an 18-yard touchdown toss for a 21-0 lead with 8:45 left in the first half.
Lewis ran for a 16-yard touchdown, followed by a botched extra point, giving Rutgers a 27-0 lead with 3:05 left in the half. He had a 2-yard run on Rutgers’ final possession of the first half to put Rutgers up 34-0.
Bolin doesn’t seem to mind coming off the field every once in a while for the more mobile Lewis.
“It’s easy,” Bolin said. “Like I told Coach (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jerry) Kill during the game is that I got no problem driving the ball 90 yards and letting John come in and put it in the paint. I’m all about getting points. . It’s all about winning.”
One play after Bolin connected with Bo Melton for a 48-yard gain, Lewis ran for a 2-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Lewis ran for a fourth touchdown to make it 51-0 with 2:03 left in the third as he became the first Knight to rush for four touchdowns since Ray Rice had four against Ball State in 2008. He finished with 58 yards on 11 carries while completing both his passes.
DeAndre Harris made the start over Elijah Staley for Morgan State. Staley checked in the game early in the second quarter on Morgan State’s third drive of the game.
“We want to compete against those guys and put together a game plan that is going to give us opportunities to be successful. Obviously, today, we weren’t good enough,” Morgan State coach Fred Farrier said. “We have to find a way to go back to the drawing board, figure that out and make sure we are putting our kids in the right positions and developing confidence in those kids to compete against anyone in any point in time, because all those football fields are 100 yards by 53 yards.”
Raheem Blackshear added two fourth-quarter touchdowns and had 102 yards on 14 carries for Rutgers.
“This game honestly shows we’ve gotten better because I don’t know that we could have done that last year … It’s what you want to do, it’s what you expect to do as a coach in a game like this,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. “But it’s another to actually go do it, and we were able to go do it.”
RUTGERS: The opponent didn’t matter. The Scarlet Knights got a needed win just to remember the feeling. Especially after being upset at home by Eastern Michigan the week prior. Now they need to focus on snapping its Big Ten losing streak, which is at 14.
MORGAN STATE: The Bears looked like the inferior opponent, stepping up from the FCS to take on a Big Ten program. The team from the MEAC has been shut out the first three games of the season.
Kill was back on the sidelines after suffering a seizure following Rutgers’ game vs. Eastern Michigan last week. Kill stepped down as Minnesota head coach during the 2015 season because of seizures caused by epilepsy. Kill was released from the hospital on Monday.
MORGAN STATE: The Bears will try to get their first win of the season in their MEAC opener against North Carolina A&T.
RUTGERS: The Scarlet Knights open up Big Ten play on the road at Nebraska.
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)