MIAMI – Mohamed Sanu threw for one touchdown and ran for another and Joe Lefeged had a career night on defense to help Rutgers overcome sluggish play and beat Florida International 19-14 on Saturday night.
Sanu scored the game-winning touchdown with 13:07 left in the game while Lefeged, Rutgers' starting strong safety, had an interception, forced two fumbles and blocked two punts.
Sanu lined up as the "wildcat" quarterback and rushed for a 24-yard score that erased a 14-13 FIU lead. He finished the game with only 45 yards rushing on nine carries but was also pivotal in getting Rutgers into the end zone before halftime.
With 5:23 to go in the second quarter, Sanu threw a 24-yard touchdown to D.C. Jefferson on fourth-and-2, giving the Scarlet Knights (2-0) a 10-7 lead.
That play came four plays after Lefeged intercepted FIU quarterback Wesley Carroll and returned the ball to the FIU 32-yard line.
Carroll debuted for the Panthers (0-1) after transferring from Mississippi State two years ago. He threw an interception on his first play but settled down and went 12-for-22 for 166 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Carroll threw a screen to Wayne Times that resulted in a 28-yard touchdown and gave FIU a 7-3 lead with 1:41 to go in the first quarter. FIU took the lead again with 13:16 left in the third quarter when Carroll threw a fade into the right end zone to Jeremiah Harden for a 17-yard score.
The Panthers had 371 yards of offense to Rutgers' 172 yards, but FIU had five turnovers in the game and tallied 14 penalties for 126 yards.
FIU lost its sixth-straight season opener.