Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rutgers 41, Maryland 38

I spent the afternoon watching football and rooting for my Rutgers Scarlet Knights against Maryland. Have to admit they really ticked me off early in the game. They fell behind 35-10 in the second quarter and it didn't look like the defense could stop a Pop Warner team--if the Pop Warner team did nothing but run the ball.

But with a few minutes left in the first half something strange happened. Rutgers scored a TD to make it 35-17. They got the ball to start the second half and after a 71-yard kickoff return, scored another TD to make it 35-24. Then another to make it 35-31. Maryland got a 50-yard field goal to make it 38-31. Then, early in the fourth quarter, RU got yet another TD to tie it 38 all and followed that up with a field goal with 6:14 left in the game to go ahead 41-38.

Meanwhile the defense had decided to show up. They had bent but never broke in the second half but the best was yet to come. After RU had gone ahead, they stopped the Terrapins an d forced a long field goal attempt which was ever so close but inches to the outside of the left goal post. It was the kicker's first miss of the season but that miss would affect decisions later on as well.

RU took over but on the second play form scrimmage there was a fumble and and Maryland recovered. The RU defense was back on the field and Maryland was again RU territory. But the New and Improved defense stopped the Terrapin attack three times and it was fourth and a yard. Rather than try to tie the game on a long field goal, Maryland went for it--and RU held.

RU ran the ball three times without getting a first down. On fourth and something, with six seconds left, they had wide receiver Leonte Carroo take shotgun snap and run around a bit before stepping out of the endzone for a safety as time ran out. Several yellow hankies littered the field and replay showed three or four offensive lineman literally tackling the Maryland rushers as Carroo ran around. Ten yard penalty on Rutgers. One more untimed play to be run by Rutgers. Two points come off the board. Gary Nova took the snap and knelt down for the win.

The 25-point comeback is the biggest in RU history; the second greatest in all of FBS football this season--so far; and the biggest in the Big Ten since 2009. Nova finished the day with 347 passing yards after going 28 of 42 with no INTs and four TDs. Three RU receivers had more than 100 yards: Janarion Grant 8 catches for 105 yards, Andre Patton 8 catches for 101 yards and two TDs, Leonte Carroo 6 catches for 104 yards and two TDs.

The win was Rutgers' seventh of the season and their third Big Ten victory. Maryland finished the year in third place in the Big Ten East with a 4-4 in Conference record and 7-5 over all. Rutgers ended up right behind them in fourth place with a 3-5 Conference record and also 7-5 over all. (If not for the second half collapse against Penn State, a 13-10 loss....)

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