Home College Football Rutgers Pulls It Out In The Second Half Against Indiana

Rutgers Pulls It Out In The Second Half Against Indiana

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Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta/ USA Today Sports

Piscataway, N.J. — — Greg Schiano appointed Nunzio Campanile as the new offensive coordinator last week and things look brighter on the Raritan Bank.

Samuel Brown had a career-high 101 yards rushing and a touchdown and Noah Vedral threw for 113 yards and a touchdown as the Scarlet Knights (4-3, 1-3 Big Ten) rallied past Indiana (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) 24-17 on Saturday at SHI Stadium.

“Whenever my name was called, just to execute my job,” Brown said of his career day. “That was pretty much it.”

RU scored 24 unanswered points, its second-best scoring run in a Big Ten game after the 28 to finish the 2015 win at Indiana.

The Scarlet Knights won for the fourth time since 2020 when trailing at halftime in a Big Ten game. It was the sixth such occurrence overall.

It was good enough to snap a 21-game conference home losing streak for Rutgers (4-3, 1/3 Big Ten). The last conference home win was against Maryland in 2017. It was the longest home conference game losing streak in Big Ten history.

IU special team came out of the gate clicking putting seven points on the board before their first offensive possession thanks to a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Jaylin Lucas. The Hoosiers stopped the Scarlet Knights’ first possession, then drove the ball 91 yards on 11 plays, scoring on a Connor Bazelak rushing touchdown to take a 14-point lead in the first.

But apparently all the energy that went in to getting the Hoosiers a good start took the juice out of the offense the rest of the way as Indiana then fizzled dramatically.

The game looked like it was going to get out of control, IU drove down the field to the Rutgers 33 on their possession but a holding penalty pushed them back and forced kicker Charles Campbell to try to attempt a 52-yard goal, which he missed wide to the left.

Indiana’s Connor Bazelak finished 23 of 41 for 210 yards and a late interception.

“That tempo, you could see at the beginning it took our team — no matter how much you do different things in practice, it’s hard to really simulate that at the speed with which they do it,” Schiano said. “I think it took us a series and a half to get used to it, but then what an unbelievable job the defense did.”

Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta/ USA Today Sports

IU held the Scarlet Knight to 43 yards in the first quarter. After an 11-play, 86-yard touchdown drive by the Scarlet Knights, the Hoosiers forced three straight punts the rest of the half. At the break, RU only muster up 150 yards of total offense. Even on the first drive of the second half, the Hoosiers forced a field goal to end a 15-play, 46-yard drive that took 6:27 off the clock.

But Rutgers started to chop and forced the Hoosiers into a three-and-out, Rutgers got the ball and drove  the ball 56 yards on 12 plays which ate up 6:56 on the clock. On those first two drives, the Scarlet Knights picked up 5 of 6 third-down conversions and would take the lead the Hoosiers couldn’t never overcome. The Hoosiers held Rutgers to 305 total yards but the Scarlet Knights defense turned it up on another level.

Rutgers’ defense held IU to just 85 yards in the second half, as LB Deion Jennings and DB Christian Izien had nine tackles apiece. DB Christian Braswell recorded three pass breakups and a pick-six in the fourth quarter, while DL Aaron Lewis racked up two tackles-for-loss.

RU answered with a 11-play, 86-yard drive. Vedral’s pitch and catch to Sean Ryan to trim the Indiana lead to 14-7 with 9:53 left in the first half. The transfer from West Virginia had three catches on the drive after just nine on the season.

“I’m very disappointed,” Indiana Tom Allen told reporters. “We got off to a good start like we wanted to. We moved the ball down the field twice (in the first quarter). We should have gotten points the second time, but did not.

“Still, we wanted to start strong and we did that. But we could not sustain anything on offense. It put a lot of pressure on our defense. They played hard, but they were out there too much.”

Rutgers defense, which came into the game ranked eight nationally in rushing defense (91.7 yards per game) and 10th in overall defense (285.8 yards per game), tightened up to keep the game in reach at half. After giving up 143 yards in the first quarter, Rutgers only gave up 129 yards in the remaining three quarters.

RU wide receiver Aron Cruickshank had 121 total yards for Rutgers.

DB Christian Braswell had a 12-yard pick-6, giving Rutgers the 24-14 lead with 5:12 left in the game. Indiana hit a 38-yard field goal with 1:18 remaining on the clock to pull within a touchdown, but Rutgers was able to recover the onside kick.
The Scarlet Knights improved to 11-5 under head coach Greg Schiano directly off an open week.

 

THE TAKEAWAY

Indiana: After a 3-0 start, the Hoosiers have dropped five straight. And things are not going to get any easier for the Hoosiers. IU host No. 16 Penn State before traveling No. 2 Ohio State.

Rutgers: If the Scarlet Knights want any chance of making it to a bowl game, Indiana felt like a must-win. Rutgers has a gauntlet of a schedule remaining that includes hosting No. 4 Michigan and Penn State and going to Minnesota and Maryland.

UP NEXT:

Indiana: Bye week before hosting Penn State.

Rutgers: At Minnesota next Saturday.