PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Rutgers football team suffered its first setback of the 2012 campaign, falling to Kent State, 35-23, at High Point Solutions Stadium on Saturday. Rutgers (7-1, 4-0 BIG EAST) moved to 2-1 all-time against the Golden Flashes (7-1, 4-0 MAC).
Sophomore quarterback Gary Nova (Elmwood Park, N.J.) threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns, the second time in his career he went over the 300-yard mark. Sophomore running back Jawan Jamison (Starke, Fla.) scored one rushing touchdown to go along with 84 yards on the ground. Sophomore wide receiver Brandon Coleman (Accokeek, Md.) and senior wide receiver Tim Wright (Wall Township, N.J.) each caught passes in the end zone.
Defensively, senior linebacker Khaseem Greene (Elizabeth, N.J.) recovered a fumble and forced another for the Scarlet Knights. Junior defensive back Logan Ryan (Berlin, N.J.) led the team with 13 tackles.
Rutgers notched the first points of the game after junior Jamal Merrell (Bear, Del.) forced Kent State running back Trayion Durham to fumble. Greene fell on it for his second recovery of the season. The Scarlet Knights then put together a 10-play, 33-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 42-yard field goal from redshirt freshman kicker Nick Borgese (Hamburg, N.Y.).
The Golden Flashes answered with a 67-yard drive of their own, which led to a one-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Keith Spencer to Zack Hitchens. Kent State took a 7-3 lead with 5:40 left in the first stanza.
With 13:27 remaining in the second quarter, the Golden Flashes attempted a 40-yard field goal that was blocked by sophomore Lorenzo Waters (Accokeek, Md.). Rutgers took over possession at its own 29-yard line and on the first play, but Nova was picked off by Mark Fackler, who returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. Kent State took a 14-3 lead with 13:21 left in the half.
The Scarlet Knights took over possession again, but the Golden Flashes switched the field after Leon Green intercepted Nova, and returned it to the Rutgers 45 yard line. Kent State took seven plays to find the end zone, handing the ball to Dri Archer for a 7-yard score, taking a 21-3 lead at the 5:54 mark in the second quarter.
With 59 seconds left in the half, the Scarlet Knights took over possession at their own 17-yard line with one timeout left. Jamison went on a 45-yard scamper to the Kent State 38 yard line to open the drive. From the 19-yard line and the clock winding down, Nova found Wright in the end zone. Wright made a diving catch with four seconds left, cutting the Kent State lead to 21-10 going into the locker rooms.
The Golden Flashes got on the board first in the second half after finishing a seven-play, 56-yard drive with a three-yard run from Durham, making the score 28-10 with 7:28 in the third. The Scarlet Knights would answer on their next possession, going 72 yards in nine plays. Nova completed six passes on the drive, culminating in a 24-yard touchdown pass to Colemanin the corner of the end zone. Coleman had 30 receiving yards during the possession and the lead was cut to 28-17.
The fourth quarter opened with an interception of Nova from Sidney Saulter. The Golden Flashes went 61 yards and Spencer found wide receiver Josh Boyle in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown, making the score 35-17 with 11:30 left in the game.
Rutgers answered again, trekking 75 yards in six plays, highlighted by 30 receiving yards from senior Mark Harrison (Stratford, Conn.). Jamison eventually hit pay dirt on a 2-yard rush, and a failed two-point conversion trimmed the lead to 35-23, which ended up as the final score.
Rutgers has a bye week before continuing at home against Army on Nov. 10. Time is to be announced.
• No. 15 Rutgers (7-1, 4-0 BIG EAST) lost 35-23 to Kent State (7-1, 4-0 MAC) Saturday on Homecoming at High Point Solutions Stadium. The loss snapped Rutgers’ eight-game winning streak dating back to last season.
• Rutgers dropped to 2-1 all-time vs. the Golden Flashes and is 53-27-1 all-time on Homecoming.
• The loss was the first of the head coaching career for Kyle Flood.
• Rutgers blocked its sixth kick of the season – and its 29th since 2009 – the most of any team in the country over the last four seasons.
• Kent State rushed for 224 yards – the most of any opponent against Rutgers this season. It was the most yards rushing vs. a RU defense since Army’s 228 yards on the ground in 2011(11/12/11).
• Kent State RB Trayion Durham rushed for 131 yards – the first 100-yard rusher against RU in 11 games since USF’s Darrell Scott (100 yards) in 2011.
• Rutgers committed seven turnovers, a season-high. The Scarlet Knights entered the game tied for third nationally in turnover margin (+2). Today, the Scarlet Knights were -5 in turnover differential. It was the most turnovers by a RU team since committing eight at West Virginia in 2001.
• Sophomore QB Gary Nova (Elmwood Park, N.J.) was 25-of-46 passing for 313 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions. The six INTs were a career-high for Nova.
• Sophomore RB Jawan Jamison (Starke, Fla.) finished with a career-high eight receptions for a career-high 88 yards. Jamison finished with 172 all-purpose yards.
• Sophomore WR Miles Shuler (Long Branch, N.J.) caught the first two passes of his career for 43 yards.
• Junior CB Logan Ryan (Berlin, N.J.) finished with a career-high 13 tackles. His previous single-game best was 10 tackles at North Carolina in 2011.
• Senior CB Marcus Cooper (Bloomfield, Conn.) totaled a career-best nine tackles, breaking his old personal best of four.
• Senior DT Scott Vallone (Central Islip, N.Y.) tied a career-high with 2.5 TFL and set a season-best with seven tackles.