Authors: By TOM CANAVAN
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- While sophomore quarterback Munchie Legaux struggled in his first start for Cincinnati, he wasn't the only Bearcat to have a problem
Rutgers beat the Bearcats (7-3, 3-2 Big East) in almost every phase of the game in a 20-3 win that sent Cincinnati to its second straight loss and knocked them a half game behind the Scarlet Knights and Louisville in the race for first place in the conference.
"I told our players we still have a couple games left and you find out now when you're challenged, we have to stay together, which we will," Cincinnati coach Butch Jones said. "We were 7-1, it's the same thing at 7-3 now with two games to go. It will be a great challenge going to Syracuse. Very disappointing day, we need to learn from it, get better and move on."
Legaux was thrust into the quarterback spot last week, when Zach Collaros broke his right ankle against West Virginia. The senior had surgery this week and will miss the rest of the regular season.
Legaux played well in relief last week, but Rutgers (8-3, 4-2) had his number on Saturday. He was limited to 12 of 31 for 158 yards and an interception. His fumble on a first quarter sack set up the Scarlet Knights first touchdown, a 12-yard run by Juwan Jamison, who rushed for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
"Offensively we could never establish a rhythm," said Jones, whose team was limited to a season-low 225 total yards. "No big plays, too many dropped passes. Not very efficient in the run game. By far not our best performance. We need to get off the field on third down, we weren't able to do that."
Rutgers also dominated on offense, gaining a season-high 212 yards rushing against the nation's second best rushing defense while holding the ball for more than 38 minutes.
Cincinnati came into the game yielding 81.4 yards rushing.
"We've still got a chance," Bearcats middle linebacker JK.Schaffer said. "We just have to come out, keep playing, keep the team together and get back on a roll. This is familiar territory, we've been here. We're not worried, we just gotta go out and put our work shirts on and get back to work this week and practice, get in the film room, take care of our bodies, and we'll be fine."
Rutgers coach Gregs Schiano said Legaux and his teammates were close to breaking a couple of big plays, only to be tripped up by ankle tackles.
"He is really talented," Schiano said of Legaux. "When he feels comfortable, he can really zip it. I mean he hit that dig route - that thing was no higher than my head for about 30 yards. He is a talented guy - I thought our guys really showed up and played well and made it difficult for him."
Jamison carried 34 times and scored on runs of 12 and 1 yard as the Scarlet Knights snapped a five-game losing streak against the Bearcats and avenged a 69-38 loss last season, a game in which Cincinnati had 661 yards in total offense.
The Scarlet Knights, who finish their regular season at Connecticut next weekend, need to have idle West Virginia lose one of their last two league games to have any chance at winning the league crown and getting the BCS bid for the league.
Jamison gave the Scarlet Knights the lead, scoring on his12-yard run two plays after Brandon Jones sacked Legaux and forced a fumble that Justin Francis recovered.
Tony Miliano cut the deficit to 7-3 with a 47-yard field goal after Cincinnati could generate only 18 yards in eight plays after getting the ball at the Rutgers 48 following a short punt.
Rutgers pushed the lead back to seven points when San San Te capped a 23-play, 82-yard second-quarter march that consumed close to 10 minutes. Chas Dodd (19 of 33 for 173 yards) converted three third-down passes on the drive and Jamison converted two other third downs with short runs.
After getting a first and goal at the Bearcats 1, Cincinnati brought down fullback Michael Burton for a 4-yard loss and Rutgers had to settle for three points.
Jamison pushed the lead to 17-3 midway through the third quarter capping an 11-play, 94 yard drive on which he has runs of 22 and 29 yards with his short TD run.
Te added a 43 yard field goal in the fourth quarter that was set up by a 35-yard run by Jamison.
The game was Rutgers' final home contest this season and the seniors were introduced before the game. The loudest cheer was reserved for Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed last October making a tackle in a game against Army at the Meadowlands.