PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — For the second straight game, Kyle Monangai provided Rutgers with a much-needed fourth-quarter spark that resulted in a 35-16 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights running back scored two touchdowns in that quarter, turning a five-point Rutgers lead of 21-16 into a rout. He scored on runs of 55 and 12 yards in the quarter, finishing with three TDs and 143 yards rushing.
Gavin Wimsatt continued his trajectory as a dual-threat quarterback for Rutgers, running for a career-high 87 yards to help the Scarlet Knights get off to a 3-0 start for the third straight season. The last time Rutgers started three consecutive seasons with three straight wins was from 1959 to 1961.
The win snapped a 12-game losing streak against Virginia Tech (1-2). The teams met annually between 1992 and 2003 when they were members of the Big East Conference.
In a 36-7 victory over Temple on September 9th, Monangai worked his magic in the fourth quarter, scoring a touchdown that pushed the Scarlet Knights lead to 20-7. He ran for 57 yards on that key drive, finishing with a career best 165.
“Yeah, he’s (Monangai) running very, very hard, running smart, running determined,” said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. “Thank goodness, right, because he’s helped us win games.”
Against Virginia Tech, an opponent Rutgers traditionally had problems with, Wimsatt ran for a 34-yard score and hit Christian Dremel on a 4-yard TD. He completed 7 of 16 passes for 46 yards.
Named as the starting quarterback after splitting time his first two seasons at Rutgers, Wimsatt has accumulated 407 yards passing and 148 yards rushing and has yet to throw an interception.
“He (Wimsatt) ran the ball really well, and most of all he protected the football,” said Schiano. “When we don’t turn it over, we’re tough to beat. He did a very good job.”
The Hokies were without their top wide receiver, Ali Jennings and starting quarterback Grant Wells, who both suffered ankle injuries in their loss to Purdue on September 9th. Wells was replaced by redshirt sophomore Kyron Drones, who completed 19 of 32 passes for 190 yards and ran for 74 yards on 22 carries in his first career start.
“I think there’s some really good things," said Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry. "He (Drones) made it hard to defend him. I think he had some nice balls today, he did a really nice job running the ball. He did miss a few reads that I think left some plays on the field.
"His decision making was pretty good. First college start, I think there will be a lot to build from. Certainly some good things, but I think he would be the first to say a bunch of things that we need to be better at.”
Rutgers scored on its first offensive play of the game, a 19-yard run from Monangai, that was set up after a Virginia Tech fumble.
Virginia Tech: With Wells sidelined with an ankle injury, Drones made a strong case for taking over at quarterback going forward. He gives the Hokies another dimension in the RPO with his ability to spread the defense, especially when the play breaks down. Wells is more of a traditional in-the-pocket QB who doesn't possess Drone's agility.
Rutgers: Monangai has emerged as one of the elite running backs in the Big Ten Conference. He has rushed for 351 yards in three games with five TDs. With Wimsatt's ability to break loose, the Scarlet Knights have two viable running options.
Virginia Tech: At Marshall on Saturday.
Rutgers: At Michigan on Saturday.