On Thursday night, Rutgers' biggest play in its 24-10 loss to Louisville came from the hands of a player who only touches the ball a few times a game. Senior holder J.T. Tartacoff saw a familiar role come his way as he played the part of a quarterback on a Rutgers fake field goal.
The play came at a much-needed time late in the second quarter with Rutgers trailing 17-0. Rutgers lined up for a field goal with the ball placed on the Louisville 27-yard line.
Rutgers quickly shifted its formation and Tartacoff took a shotgun snap before dropping back to pass. He then spied tight end Tyler Kroft streaking down the middle.
"They played it like we thought they would, we executed great and Kroft was wide open," Tartacoff said of the fake field goal. "We have been working on it all week. It's something we felt we could run and be successful at."
The football fell right into Kroft's arms, as he was wide open.
"I set up as kind of a tackle so the idea was for them not to count me in their coverage," Kroft said. "And I sell the run for about two steps and break to the seam. As soon as I got to the second level, I knew I was wide open."
Kroft was taken down at the one-yard line, setting up a 1st and goal for Rutgers.
"I thought Kroft did a great job of running the route the way he has been doing all week," Tartacoff said. "I didn't protect him the best, he kind of got laid out but we got down to the one and scored after that. It was a good job."
Kroft actually scored on another pass on the very next play.
"I thought it was the right time," head coach Kyle Flood said regarding the fake field goal call. "I felt we needed something to jump start us a little bit."
Tartacoff knows all too well about running fake field goals against Louisville. He threw a touchdown pass on a fake field goal last year against Louisville which would have given RU a 24-3 lead late in the third quarter. But an illegal man downfield penalty negated that play.
Last night in Louisville, there was no yellow flags to ruin Tartacoff's moment.
"It was a big play. It meant a lot to me that I got to do it again this year, something similar," Tartacoff said. "But you have to forget about [last year]. You can't get stuck in the past. You have to look forward."
Tartacoff came to Rutgers as a speedy wide receiver in the recruiting class of 2010 out of Montgomery High School, only about a half hour away from Rutgers. Injuries have hampered his career as a wide receiver and safety, but he has maintained his role as the holder.
And when his number was finally called last night, Tartacoff delivered once again.
"It's great, anything I can do to help this team. It's something they can count on me to do and I am happy I pulled it off."