Carter shakes off turnovers, leads Rutgers past UMass
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — McLane Carter shook off an early interception - and three overall - to complete 21 of 31 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns in his Rutgers debut, leading the Scarlet Knights past UMass 48-21 in a season opener for both teams on Friday night.
UMass jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, looking poised for an upset in coach Walt Bell’s debut. After the Minutemen marched down the field on their opening 75-yard drive that ended in 20-yard pass from Randall West to Kyle Horn, Carter proceeded to throw an interception on the Scarlet Knights’ first possession. Cam Roberson ran 39 yards for a touchdown two plays later.
Carter, a Texas Tech graduate transfer, quickly shook off the turnover.
After a couple of TD runs by Isaih Pacheco to get Rutgers going, Carter threw two second-quarter touchdowns. Carter’s first TD toss was to Bo Melton, who had six catches for 127 yards.
Rutgers would go on to take its first lead of the game at 24-21 after a Justin Davidovicz 27-yard field goal with 4:04 left in the second quarter.
Carter’s second touchdown was a 28-yard laser to Raheem Blackshear to make it 31-21 before Pacheco’s third score of the first half put Rutgers up 38-21 at halftime. Blackshear displayed his multifaceted skillset, with nine catches for 126 yards to go along with 12 rushes for 39 yards.
After giving up 164 yards in the first quarter, Rutgers defense shored up, allowing just 307 total yards.
Pacheco scored his fourth touchdown — a 7-yard run — to complete the scoring early in the fourth quarter.
QUARTERBACK MYSTERY SOLVED
Carter is the first 300-yard passer of Chris Ash’s tenure. Rutgers’ last 300-yard passer is Chris Laviano with 344 yards vs. Maryland in 2015, the last game of the Kyle Flood era. After beating out incumbent Art Sitkowski, Ash did not reveal his starting quarterback for the season opener. It’s clear who it will be next week.
Rutgers: Travels to No. 20 Iowa for its Big Ten opener on Sept. 7.
UMass: Returns home to host Southern Illinois on Sept. 7.