Chas Dodd hit Brandon Coleman for an 86-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter and Jawan Jamison ran for two scores to lead Rutgers over Iowa State 27-13 in the Pinstripe Bowl on Friday.
The Scarlet Knights (9-4) ran their bowl winning streak to five and improved to 2-0 this season at Yankee Stadium, where they beat Army last month. Rutgers, which played in one bowl game before 2005, is 5-1 in the postseason under coach Greg Schiano.
The Cyclones (6-7) finished the season on a three-game losing streak, their last win coming on Nov. 18 in Ames, Iowa, when they pulled off the biggest upset of the season against Oklahoma State.
That night Jared Barnett threw for 376 yards. In this game, Steele Jantz relieved Barnett in the second quarter and helped pull the Cyclones within 20-13 in the fourth on Jeff Woody's 20-yard touchdown run with 10:00 left.
After an exchange of punts left Rutgers deep in its own end, Dodd went deep to Coleman. The 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman went over 5-7 cornerback Jeremy Reeves, then outran the corner to the end zone to make it 27-13 with 5:47 left.
It was Coleman's only catch, but it turned out to be the play of the game.
Jamison, another redshirt freshman giving Rutgers fans hope for more bowls to come, finished with 134 yards on 27 carries.
The Scarlet Knights missed the postseason last year for the first time since 2004, but rebounded this season to challenge for the Big East title behind a defense that came in ranked 14th in the nation.
There was also some inspiration from a fallen former teammate.
Eric LeGrand, who was left paralyzed from the shoulders down making a tackle during a game in 2010, went to all the Rutgers home games, worked on the radio broadcasts and was with the team in New York all week leading up to the bowl.
After the game, as the Scarlet Knights accepted the trophy at midfield, Schiano's acceptance speech was short: “Eric! Eric!” he shouted into the microphone, “this one's for you.”
LeGrand was shown in his wheelchair on the jumbotron, beaming a wide grin and the crowd chanted, “Eric! Eric!”
Rutgers grabbed a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter when Jamison powered through a tackler and scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
On the next possession, Iowa State couldn't handle one of Rutgers' many blitzes, and Khaseem Greene and Wayne Warren swarmed and stripped Barnett. Scott Vallone scooped up the fumble and returned it 12 yards to the Iowa State 4. The Cyclones managed to hold Rutgers to San San Te's 21-yard field goal.
Jantz, who was Iowa State's starter the first half of the season, replaced Barnett after the sack.
The Cyclones' defense didn't hold up as well on Rutgers' next possession. The Scarlet Knights marched 66 yards, 49 on the ground, and Jamison juked his way into the end zone from 12 yards out to make 17-6.
Justin Francis finished Rutgers' strong second half by blocking Zach Guyer's 44-yard field goal attempt with 57 seconds left.
Iowa State jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, with Guyer kicking field goals of 40 and 46 yards on the Cyclones' first two possessions. Inaccurate throws by Barnett were key to stalling each drive.
The redshirt freshman was 2 for 7 before giving way to Jantz.