From the exciting action on the field to the 38,328 fans that passed through the turnstiles to the incredible week of events leading up to it, Rutgers' 27-13 victory over Iowa State in the second annual New Era Pinstripe Bowl proved that this game is here to stay.
"The whole idea of this experience is to show the student-athletes and everybody from these great universities what New York City is about and what Yankee Stadium is about," said Yankees president Randy Levine. "They will tell their kids and grandkids, 'We played at Yankee Stadium.'"
Rutgers trailed 6-0 after one quarter, but redshirt freshman running back Jawan Jamison, the eventual winner of the 2011 New Era Pinstripe Bowl David C. Koch MVP Trophy, scored two second-quarter touchdowns as the Scarlet Knights took a 17-6 lead into halftime. A 20-yard touchdown run by Iowa State running back Jeff Woody brought ISU to within a score, 20-13, in the fourth, but Rutgers responded with its biggest play of the game, an 86-yard touchdown strike from Chas Dodd to Brandon Coleman that sealed the victory.
"This season didn't go the way we wanted it to, but being able to finish on a strong note and coming out here winning, it's huge," Dodd said.
Hoisting the New Era Pinstripe Bowl George M. Steinbrenner III Trophy at midfield, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano dedicated the victory to Eric LeGrand, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury while making a tackle for the Scarlet Knighs in 2010. "Hey, Big E!" Schiano shouted into the microphone at midfield while looking up toward the press box where LeGrand was seated. "This one's for you, buddy!"
Following a disappointing 4-8 campaign in 2010, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, won its fifth straight bowl game, the longest active streak in the nation at the time. Being "home for the holidays" and playing in front of so many RU fans made this one extra special.
"It's been an awesome week for our entire program," said Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti. "Having gone to six bowl games in seven years, this is right up there with the greatest experiences that we've had."
In spite of the loss, Iowa State fans went home with memories that will last a lifetime. More than two hours before kickoff, thousands of them filled Yankee Stadium's Great Hall for a noisy pep rally, and they made their presence felt throughout the game despite being heavily outnumbered by Rutgers fans.
"I don't know if I can express with the right amount of enthusiasm what we've got out of this bowl experience," said Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads. "We've got to do things in one day that most people don't get to do in a lifetime."