Seven turnovers—six of them interceptions thrown by quarterback Gary Nova—sealed the fate of Rutgers in their game against Kent State, and ended the hopes of an undefeated season for the Scarlet Knights. Things started well for Rutgers, taking a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. But the game turned as Kent State took full advantage of Rutgers' miscues, scoring 21 unanswered points before the Knights finally mustered a touchdown with just four seconds left in the first half.
"It's a terrible feeling," said Nova about the 35-23 loss and the end of the undefeated season (as reported by the Associated Press on ESPN.com). "You've just got to take the punches and keep going."
Nova, who has shown steady maturity and improvement as the season has progressed, never appeared to get on track until the second half. Down 28-17, the Knights were driving in the third quarter when Nova (25-of-46, 313 yards) hit Quron Pratt running free in the Kent State secondary. While running after the catch, Pratt simply fumbled without being hit—ending the drive.
Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison was held under 100 yards (15 carries for 84 yards, one TD) for the second time in three weeks. Indicative of the type of day the Knights had, Jamison was also the team's leading receiver with eight catches.
"It happened, we can't dwell on it," said Jamison about the defeat (via Tom Luicci of The Star-Ledger on NJ.com). "We've got to keep pressing forward."
The Golden Flashes, who had never beaten a ranked opponent in their history, kept possession for more than 37 minutes in the game, pounding the ball for 224 yards on the ground. While the Rutgers defense held Kent State to just 5-of-13 on third downs, the seven Rutgers turnovers simply gave the Flashes more possessions than the Knights could stop.
"This is a great win for our program," said Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell (via the AP). "Rutgers kept fighting back, and our guys kept fighting them off."
The loss leaves Louisville (8-0) as the only undefeated team in the Big East. Now at 7-1, Rutgers is still 4-0 in the Big East with games against conference foes Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Louisville remaining. The Scarlet Knights have a bye week upcoming, and are next in action against the Army Black Knights on Nov. 10.
"There's a goal that is in front of us that's never been done at Rutgers, the Big East Championship," Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood (via the AP) said. "I think we'll be very motivated, there's no doubt about that."