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November 2, 2013
Another win for Rutgers
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - At the end of the season, a look back on the schedule will list today's game as a 23-20 Rutgers victory over Temple. It won't describe how a series of last-minute heroics led to a dramatic comeback that sent Rutgers fans home with a smile.
It won't list how the Scarlet Knights were forced to play catch up all afternoon against 1-7 Temple team. Some self-inflicted wounds, an inconsistent defense and a handful of questionable play calls put Rutgers in a 20-16 hole with 1:50 to play as Temple was threatening to run out the clock on a 4th and short deep in Rutgers territory.
Temple quarterback P.J. Walker then took a shotgun snap and handed off to running back Kenneth Harper who was soundly stuffed behind the line of scrimmage by RU linebackers Kevin Snyder and Steve Longa.
"That is the type of play you live for when times are tough and the game is on the line," said Longa, who again led Rutgers with 12 tackles. "Players just want to make a stop and get the chance to get a win."
The Temple play call was a somewhat questionable one being as though head coach Matt Rhule opted to use a shotgun snap when he only needed less than a yard.
"We were running something similar for most of the game," Rhule said of the call. "They brought the house and you need someone to make the block."
Once Rutgers got the ball back, the offense turned to Leonte Carroo, who again delivered in the clutch. The last of his seven stellar catches came on a 4th and ten 32-yard touchdown pass from Gary Nova.
"I noticed that the corner was pressed," Carroo said. "And once I seen him press, I knew I could attack his leverage and beat him because I was studying his technique all game. I noticed he was pressing and I knew that they were bringing the house blitz."
Carroo then delivered by gaining a step and Nova put a perfect pass right in his arms as Carroo crossed the goal line.
"It was designed to go deep," Nova said of the play. "The coverages that they've shown have led to a one-on-one with Leonte and I just put it out there for him."
That play helped Rutgers snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and may have changed the complexion of the season going forward. A loss to a 1-7 Temple team could have been devastating with long-term effects.
"I want to compare this game a lot to the Arkansas game," Carroo said. "It just shows the way we fought and we came back. That's what I love about this team. We have been down before, we just come back and fight. From here on out for the rest of the season, you are going to see guys fighting in practice. This gave us our confidence."
Yet, there are still some major of areas of concern for the Scarlet Knights to try and patch up during this upcoming bye week. One concern was that the RU offense managed only three first-half points against a Temple defense that ranked 120th in the nation.
"I'm disappointed at how we played in the first half," head coach Kyle Flood said. "I thought from the two penalties for illegal substitution, and the personal fouls, that's not the way we've played football here. We have had penalties from time to time. But those were not the kind of penalties we have had until today. And I don't know the reason for that but we're going to get to the bottom of that and make sure it doesn't show up again, because that was disappointing."
Coming off a pair of forgettable performances, Nova was able to redeem himself for the time being by picking apart the Temple secondary. Nova finished 27-of-38 for 371 yards and three touchdowns.
"It's been up and down but I don't really pay attention to any of that. Like I said, when it's good, everybody wants to jump on your back," Nova said. "When it's bad, everybody wants to put you down. You've just got to stay level-headed"
Which Nova will the scarlet nation see when Rutgers faces much better competition through the rest of the season?
The answer remains to be seen, but today's performance can only help build his confidence. And regardless of how today's outcome was reached, it still goes down as a Rutgers win.
It is a win that moves Rutgers to 5-3 and in need of only one win to become bowl eligible for the eighth time in the last nine years.
"Had the game gone the other way, do I have any concerns that the team would have come out and fought? I don't," Flood said. "I think this team has a lot of fight in them,and we were fortunate we made enough plays today to win the game. And we have been in a couple [games] where we haven't. But today we did, and I'm proud of the team for doing that. That's what they're going to be judged on in terms of their body of work at the end of the year. It's not really how, it's how many [wins]."