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Kent State Defeats No. 15 Rutgers in Stunning Upset

PISCATAWAY, NJ - OCTOBER 27: Mark Fackler #47 celebrates a touchdown with teammates Zack Hitchens #41 and Norman Wolfe Jr. #11 of the Kent State Golden Flashes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at High Point Solutions Stadium on October 27, 2012 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2012

No. 15 Rutgers entered Saturday undefeated, but Kent State ensured that it wouldn't remain that way, defeating the Scarlet Knights 35-23.

Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova pretty much handed the game to the Golden Flashes. With six interceptions on the day, including one that was returned for a touchdown, Nova's poor performance was the main reason that his team couldn't take care of business at home. 

Other than the team's seven total turnovers, Rutgers played relatively well. The Golden Flashes were opportunistic and used a consistent run game to gain yards and and put points on the board.

After a Spencer Keith touchdown toss gave Kent State a 7-3 lead after the first quarter, Rutgers fell apart. Keith's score was the first of three consecutive touchdowns, putting the Scarlet Knights in a 21-3 hole until Nova found wide receiver Tim Wright for a score with four seconds remaining in the half.

The second half was more evenly matched—Trayion Durham gave Kent State a 28-10 lead with just under eight minutes remaining in the third quarter before Nova answered with a touchdown to Brandon Coleman—but the damage was already done. Trading scores with a team when you're down by two possessions makes the mountain you're climbing that much steeper.

If the Scarlet Knights had been able to get stops, or hold onto the ball, that might have been enough. However, Keith's second touchdown toss of the game, this time to wide receiver Josh Boyle, put Kent State up 35-17 with a little less than 12 minutes remaining.

Rutgers' star running back, Jawan Jamison put the score at 35-23 with just over 10 minutes left, but it wasn't enough. Neither team scored in the game's remaining minutes, sealing the win for the Golden Flashes.

Aside from Kent State's six interceptions, Durham's 131 yards paced the offense. Keith took care of the ball, and the Golden Flashes did a good job of allowing Rutgers to beat itself.

For the Scarlet Knights, the loss damages their already-small BCS hopes. A Big East title is still in play, but the undefeated mystique is gone.

Kent State (7-1) will play Akron next week, while Rutgers (7-1) looks to bounce back against Army in two weeks.

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