ORLANDO, Fla. – Rutgers could not have provided a better sampling of its 2012 football product than it did in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Coming up short, a brutal offensive performance led to a blown 10-point lead and 13-10 overtime loss to Virginia Tech.
“This game was two tremendous, tremendous defensive performances,” said head coach Kyle Flood. “It was one of the better defensive performances that I’ve witnessed from our Rutgers players this season or in my career at Rutgers.”
Sophomore Gary Nova had his worst performance since the seven-turnover loss to Kent State. Completing 17 of 40 passes for 129 yards, Nova said he apologized to the seniors for his performance.
“I just apologized to them and told them that I love them,” Nova said. “They’re all like big brothers to me. I’m going to keep in contact with all of them. That’s the roughest part, coming [into the locker room], looking them in the eyes and seeing them all teary-eyed.”
Despite the ugly performance, Nova remains the starter. Flood said he did not consider playing backup Chas Dodd and that Nova will be the starter this spring.
“I don’t believe in just throwing things against the wall to see if they work,” Flood said on making a change. “Gary’s our starting quarterback. Gary’s the one who takes the starter’s reps during the week in preparation. As we get in a game, we have to trust that his experience and our coaching are going to make him a little bit better throughout the game. That didn’t’ happen.”
Seventeen seconds into the game, Rutgers took the lead and never looked back. Nose tackle Scott Vallone jumped the Virginia Tech snap, which sailed over Thomas’ head and resulted in a Greene touchdown.
Instead of eating a safety, Thomas tried to save the play and fumbled the ball into Greene’s arms for six points.
“With two defenses like this, you certainly could have predicted a low-scoring game,” Flood said. “But to not score an offensive touchdown, I wouldn’t have [predicted] that.”
After that, it was all downhill for Rutgers, which finishes the season 9-4 and with three straight losses.