PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers coach Kyle Flood stuck with Gary Nova yet again, and this time it paid off. Approaching rock bottom and another embarrassing loss, Rutgers got Nova at its best and stole one from Temple 23-20 in the final minute.
The best 33 yards on Nova’s 371-yard day came to win the game and salvage an otherwise ugly game.
After a third-down sack, Nova stepped up against the blitz in the pocket and led sophomore Leonte Carroo perfectly for the game-winner.
“It was a sigh of relief when Carroo made that catch,” said senior defensive end Marcus Thompson. “It was big as far as us getting over the hump. Now we have to keep getting better and getting our team back ready for the bye week that’s coming and get ready for the next game.”
Nova never lost his confidence, he said, but to bounce back the way he did feels good.
“I was just trying to do it for my teammates, and I let them down the last two weeks,” Nova said. “I had to come out here and do my job.”
The junior quarterback and team captain finished with 371 yards, three touchdowns and – most importantly – no turnovers. Rutgers offensive coordinator Ron Prince showed confidence in him with a pass-heavy game plan, and a perfectly executed game-winning drive.
Out of timeouts after a six-minute Temple drive, Rutgers completed five passes and went 72 yards.
“In the second half I'm proud of the way the team fought,” Flood said. “This team has proven they will fight and they will compete and the moments in the fourth quarter that are close are not too big for this team, and that's exciting to coach a group of kids like that.”
Temple (1-8, 0-4) gave Rutgers a fight, but one of the worst statistical pass defenses in the country played as expected on the final drive.
“I thought Gary got better, protected the ball,” Flood said. “I think you saw him a couple of times when he didn't have what he wanted, he pulled it down and ran. I thought that was good. Gary is a good athlete. He's not your traditional running quarterback, I don't want to make him feel too good about it, but he is an athletic guy who was able to move the ball with his feet today as well.”