PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Highly touted freshman Savon Huggins ran for two touchdowns and Rutgers started making amends for a disastrous 2010 season with a 48-0 victory over North Carolina Central on Thursday night.
Chas Dodd added a 13-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu late in the first half. The Scarlet Knights' defense then broke the game open in the third quarter when tackle Scott Vallone recovered a fumble in the end zone and Duron Harmon returned an interception 37 yards for another score in a 45-second span.
North Carolina Central turned the ball over four times, was limited to 120 yards and sacked nine times in Henry Frazier's debut as coach.
The season-opening shutout was the second straight for Rutgers, and it was the biggest shutout win in a season opener since a 66-0 romp over Ursinus in 1918.
This one wasn't unexpected. North Carolina Central was coming off a 3-8 season and it was playing in its first Football Championship Subdivision game.
The exciting thing for Rutgers of the Big East was seeing its anemic offense gain 347 yards and the play of Huggins, who was the most recruited player in New Jersey last year after rushing for 1,891 yards and 35 touchdowns at St. Peter's Prep.
Huggins only gained 32 yards on 10 carries, but he seemed to wake up the team and the crowd with a 1-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter after coming off the bench. He ran 7 yards around the right end with 8:58 left in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead that seemed to send Rutgers on its way.
Dodd hooked up with Sanu late in the first half to extend the lead to 21 points and then the defense, which had 17 sacks all last season, took over in the third quarter.
Eagles quarterback Michael Johnson was sacked by David Milewski in the end zone, knocking the ball loose. Vallone jumped on it for a 28-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, Harmon made his second interception of the game and followed a convoy of red-shirted teammates down the right sideline for a 35-0 lead.
Nova added his TD pass to Coleman about two minutes later and the worst team in the Big East was home free against their foes from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Dodd finished 9 of 17 for 113 yards and an interception. Johnson was 10 of 25 for 88 yards with two picks.