ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 28, 2012) – Rutgers saw its 2012 season come to an end with a 13-10 overtime loss to Virginia Tech in the Russell Athletic Bowl Friday in Orlando. The loss ended the Scarlet Knights’ bowl win streak at five, which had previously been the longest active streak in the nation.
Rutgers led 10-0 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Hokies got their first points on their 11th drive of the contest. Virginia Tech had back-to-back passes that gained 32 and 25 yards respectively, setting the team up for a 25-yard field goal by PK Cody Journell to cut the deficit to 10-3 with 12:14 remaining.
On the ensuing drive, sophomore QB Gary Nova (Elmwood Park, N.J.) was intercepted by Virginia Tech CB Antone Exum, who returned the ball to the Rutgers 21 with 11:11 left on the clock. The Hokies converted on the turnover as QB Logan Thomas found WR Corey Fuller for a 21-yard touchdown, tying the game at 10 with 10:56 to go.
The score remained tied as the game went to overtime. Virginia Tech took over the ball first and had a first-and-goal at the Rutgers three-yard line, but couldn’t punch it in. The Hokies settled for a 22-yard Journell field goal to take a 13-10 lead. The Scarlet Knights went three-and-out before redshirt freshman PK Nick Borgese (Hamburg, N.Y.) missed wide-right on a 42-yard field goal to end the game.
Defensive play was the strong point through most of the contest as Rutgers totaled three turnovers, four sacks and 10.0 tackles for loss, holding Virginia Tech to just 196 yards and a season-best three rushing yards on 32 attempts, which was also a bowl record for the Scarlet Knights.
Senior DB Brandon Jones (Sicklerville, N.J.) intercepted Thomas twice, a career high, giving him five on the season. Senior linebacker Khaseem Greene (Elizabeth, N.J.) notched a team-best 11 tackles, moving him into fourth on the school’s career tackles list with 387, passing Courtney Greene (2005-08).
Rutgers got on the board first after a Virginia Tech mishap. On second-and-10 during its first offensive possession of the game, a snap went over the head Thomas and bounced into the end zone. Greene jumped on the loose football for a Rutgers touchdown at the 14:43 mark in the opening quarter.
The Scarlet Knights held Virginia Tech scoreless on its next three drives, highlighted by sophomore DL Jamil Merrell (Bear, Del.) notching a hard-hitting sack, his first of two in the game, on Thomas for a seven-yard loss. VT wouldn’t convert the third-and-long play.
Rutgers finished the year 9-4 and earned a share of the school’s first BIG EAST Championship.
POST GAME NOTES
• Rutgers (9-4) closed out the 2012 season with a 13-10 overtime loss to Virginia Tech (7-6) in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
• Rutgers had the nation’s longest active bowl winning streak at five games come to an end with the overtime setback. RU is 5-3 all-time in bowl games.
• The Scarlet Knights scored their seventh non-offensive touchdown of the season just 17 seconds into the game as senior All-America linebacker Khaseem Greene (Elizabeth, N.J.) recovered a fumble in the end zone. It was the second touchdown of the season for Greene.
• Greene ended his tremendous career with a team-high 11 tackles to move into fourth place in RU history with 387 career tackles. Greene moved past former defensive back Courtney Greene (386) in the RU record book.
• Rutgers held Virginia Tech to three yards rushing, a new bowl single-game low for a RU opponent. The three yards rushing were also a season-low for the RU defense.
• The Scarlet Knights equaled a season-high with four sacks against the Hokies.
• The 196 yards allowed by the Rutgers defense was the third-lowest total of the season and the second-lowest amount by a RU opponent in a bowl game. Kansas State’s 131 yards in the 2006 Texas Bowl was the fewest.
• Senior cornerback Brandon Jones (Sicklerville, N.J.) set a career-high with two interceptions. It set a new single-game bowl record for the Scarlet Knights. Jones led RU on the season with five interceptions.
• Junior defensive tackle Jamil Merrell (Bear, Del.) set a career-high with two sacks in the overtime loss to the Hokies.
• Rutgers is now 4-5 all-time in overtime games. Tonight was the first time RU has played an overtime bowl game.
• Since 2000, Rutgers is now 44-5 when holding an opponent to 300 yards or less.