Rutgers Beats Arkansas – What They’re Saying

Rutgers Beats Arkansas – The Final 24-28

Rutgers Beats Arkansas

The Razorback football game against Rutgers is in the books with a road loss for the Hogs 24-28. Here is a wrap up of what sportswriters and analysts had to say about the game.

Steve Politi, a columnist for the Star-Ledger in New Jersey wrote this:

The offense looked lost. The defense looked tired. The fans, decked out in black for the big game, looked like they had come dressed for a funeral and not for the biggest nonconference game here in years.

Rutgers was down 17 points late in the third quarter to Arkansas, about to blow a rare chance to beat an SEC team, when an end-over-end punt landed in the hands of a 19-year-old true freshman.

Janarion Grant reversed field and took off down the Rutgers sideline, shifting into a gear that few humans possess, and saw nothing but the artificial turf between him and the end zone.

“When I see green,” Grant said, “that means go.”

“I knew all along we had a chance, even when it was 24-7,” Grant said. “Once I get that perfect kick, I’m out of there. I’m gone.”

“You’re feeling like, ‘Damn, here it comes,’ and then something big happens,” defensive tackle Darius Hamilton said. “Something BIG. Something that gets the crowd going, the offense going, the defense back on its feet.”


Brendan Prunty of the Star-Ledger:

“It’s a great win,” Gary Nova said in the locker room. “I think the way we kept believing the whole time — the sideline was awesome — and when we had the chance, we took advantage of it. I think we all want to get better and clean up some of the things in the game, but in the fourth quarter, when the game was on the line, we stepped up and made plays.”


Prunty writes this about Rutgers’ tight end Tyler Kroft:

“Tyler has got great hands,” Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood said. “Tyler has built himself into a tight end that can play in the run game and that was the only thing he needed to do to get the opportunity to catch these types of passes.”

And not a moment too soon for Gary Nova.

“We knew that he was a good matchup on their inside linebackers,” Nova said. “We tried to exploit that early, which we did. And we did later in the game. He ran great routes.”


Mike Vorkunov of the Star-Ledger on the Rutgers rushing defense:

Darius Hamilton looked down at the stat sheet and asked how many rushing yards Rutgers had held Arkansas to. Did the Scarlet Knights hold the Razorbacks under 100 yards?

Hamilton and the Scarlet Knights fell just short, allowing 101 yards on 34 carries in their 28-24 victory over the Razorbacks Saturday, but it was a minor point in a strong performance.

Arkansas entered High Point Solutions stadium with two of the top 12 rushers in the country, Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, and the 11th-best running game. It left
with little to vindicate those lofty rankings.

Collins was held to 63 yards on 16 carries. Williams had only 25 yards on 12 carries.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Hamilton said. “We went out there and we executed for the most part. We did some things wrong but I was happy with the physicality and the emotion that everybody played with today.”

“I think they came out here and tried to do that to us. I feel like we answered the call.”


The Associated Press reported:

Something about Arkansas seems to bring out the best in Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova.

Nova threw touchdown passes of 33 and 4 yards to Leonte Carroo in the final 9:55 and Rutgers rallied from a 17-point, second-half deficit to beat previously undefeated Arkansas 28-24 on Saturday.

“It’s a great win,” said Nova, who started despite missing most of last week’s game against Eastern Michigan with a concussion. “The way we won, we kept believing the whole time on the sideline. Everyone was positive and when we had the chance, we took advantage of it.”

“Somebody told me he had over 250 yards passing in the fourth quarter; it does not surprise me,” Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. “Gary’s greatest attribute is his competitive fire, and it does not surprise me that he can come through a game like that and perform like that in the fourth.”

“Momentum was on our side and we had every opportunity to put our foot on their throat and we didn’t,” Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers said. “I don’t feel like we let up. They got in a few more punches than we did.

“We have to learn to fight to the end.”


The Scarlet Nation highlighted the effect the crowd had on the game:

The fifth largest home crowd in school history played a big part in Rutgers’ come-from-behind victory over Arkansas on Saturday. A crowd of 51,969 fans piled into High Point Solutions Stadium and helped Rutgers overcome a 24-7 third quarter deficit.

The Scarlet Knights struck back with 21 unanswered points to cap off a 28-24 thriller in Piscataway.

“I can talk about our crowd today for probably an hour in terms of the energy that they brought to the game, getting in there at an earlier time I think than we usually do; staying even when the game seemed very hard at times, and as disruptive a crowd as we’ve had here probably since the 2006 Louisville game,” head coach Kyle Flood said after the game.

Following a third quarter 58-yard punt return touchdown by Janarion Grant, the RU defense went to work with the help of the home crowd.

“It was deafening loud when they were on offense in that fourth quarter, and I can’t thank them enough for that,” Flood said. “That is what a home-field advantage should be. It’s what a home-field advantage can do for a football team and it’s one of the factors in the win today, there’s no doubt about it.”


Writing for the ESPN SEC Blog, Greg Ostendorf’s “What We Learned” column:

It was a rough day for the new head coaches: The SEC features four first-year head coaches this season, and not a single one picked up a victory Saturday. Gus Malzahn and Butch Jones faced difficult road tests against better opponents. Auburn lost to No. 6 LSU in Death Valley, and despite a strong start, Tennessee came up short against Florida. The one that hurt the most was Brett Bielema’s Arkansas team and its collapse against Rutgers. The Razorbacks led 24-7 late in the third quarter, but Rutgers rallied in the fourth to win, 28-24. What makes it worse for the Hogs is that their next four opponents are all ranked in the top 20, beginning with Texas A&M next week. Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, the other first-year coach, had the weekend off.


From the Saturday Blitz:

Arkansas’ unbeaten start came to an end against the Razorbacks’ first real test of the Bret Bielema era. In surrendering 21 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarters, Arkansas showed its youthful inexperience and vulnerability heading into the SEC season.

Conversely, Rutgers has a springboard into American Athletic competition that bolsters not only the Scarlet Knights going forward, but the BCS aspirations of two RU opponents.

The American now has two victories against SEC competition. Rutgers’ defeat of Arkansas and Louisville’s win over Kentucky could prove to be inconsequential — bear in mind that both teams finished near and at the bottom of their respective divisions a season ago and are breaking in first-year coaches.

Still, the residual bump from the SEC’s overall strength boosts Rutgers’ computer value, which in turn benefits the BCS aspirations of both Louisville and Fresno State. The Bulldogs’ season opening defeat of the Scarlet Knights has added juice now.

And finally, courtesy of the Rutgers Department of Athletics:

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (September 21, 2013) – Twenty-one unanswered points, sparked by a 58-yard punt return late in the third quarter by freshman Janarion Grant (Trilby, Fla.), propelled the Rutgers football team to a 28-24 victory over SEC foe Arkansas Saturday night at High Point Solutions Stadium.

Rutgers wraps up nonconference play at 3-1, while Arkansas also moves to 3-1.

Sophomore wide receiver Leonte Carroo (Edison, N.J.) hauled in a pair of fourth quarter touchdown catches from junior quarterback Gary Nova (Elmwood Park, N.J.) – his team-leading fourth and fifth this season – and the RU defense did the rest, forcing the Razorbacks into three fourth-quarter punts before icing the game.

“I can talk about our crowd today for probably an hour in terms of the energy that they brought to the game,” said head coach Kyle Flood. “They got in there at an earlier time I think than we usually do; staying even when the game seemed very hard at times, and as disruptive a crowd as we’ve had here probably since the 2006 Louisville game.

“It was deafening loud when they were on offense in that fourth quarter, and I can’t thank them enough for that. That is what a home field advantage should be. It’s what a home field advantage can do for a football team and it’s one of the factors in the win today, there’s no doubt about it.”

Sophomore tight end Tyler Kroft (Downington, Pa.) had a career day, hauling six catches for 133 yards and a touchdown. Kroft is the first RU player since Carroo in at Fresno State to post at least 100 yards receiving in a game.

The Rutgers defense passed in its biggest test of the season thus far, holding the Arkansas ground game to 101 yards on the day. The Razorbacks averaged 294.3 yards per game entering the matchup, as Alex Collins, the nation’s seventh-leading rusher entering the contest, ran 16 times for just 74 yards.

Junior linebacker Kevin Snyder (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) led the team with 10 tackles as sophomore linebacker Quentin Gause (Rochester, N.Y.) notched a team-high three tackles for loss (TFLs) in his first-career start.

After leaving the game against Eastern Michigan last week due to injury, Nova recovered in front of the RU faithful, going 8-for-14 with two touchdowns and 151 yards in the fourth quarter.

Nova and the Scarlet Knights offense connected on three passes of 25 yards or more on the squad’s 98-yard scoring drive with 9:55 remaining, capped by Carroo’s 33-yard score up the right sideline to make it 24-21 Arkansas.

Following a 47-yard punt return by Grant, Nova again led his team into the end zone, going 3-for-5 and hooking up with Carroo for his second touchdown of the game and fourth in the final quarter of action this season.

That gave Rutgers its first lead of the game with 5:18 remaining in regulation, and the defense responded by forcing Arkansas to punt the ball away on its next possession.

Sophomore running back Savon Huggins (Jackson, N.J.) did not give it back to the Razorbacks, rushing six times to eat the clock and secure RU’s first-ever home victory against and SEC opponent.

Grant turned the game around for RU late in the third quarter, as Arkansas’s Sam Irwin-Hill attempted a rugby-style punt to Grant at around midfield.

Grant received the ball and began his run in the right middle of the field, before cutting back left and breaking away for RU’s first punt return touchdown of the season. With the return score, Grant became the first RU player since Willie Foster in 2005 to record both a punt return and kickoff return touchdown in the same season.

Prior to Grant’s touchdown, Arkansas controlled momentum, scoring 14 unanswered points to take a 24-7 lead.

Running back Jonathan Williams received a pitch right with 8:38 to go in the third quarter before pulling up and tossing a 21-yard pass to Hunter Henry in the back right of the end zone.

The trick play gave RU its biggest deficit of the season and followed a 10-play, 75-yard Arkansas drive to begin the second half. That scoring drive was capped by a 17-yard touchdown pass to Javontee Herndon, putting Arkansas up, 17-7.

RU entered the locker rooms trailing 10-7 at halftime, despite outgaining Arkansas 208-103 in total offense. Nova connected with Kroft for a 15-yard touchdown pass –the second of his career – with 0:39 seconds remaining in the period to make it 10-7 Arkansas.

Arkansas jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter of action, knocking in a field goal with 1:51 remaining in the period and returning a Nova interception 26 yards for a touchdown on RU’s next possession.

The Scarlet Knights will enjoy a bye-week this week before getting back on the gridiron on Oct. 5 at SMU in Dallas, Texas. The Mustangs represent the first American Athletic Conference contest for RU this season.


– First Collegiate Start: CB Nadir Barnwell, LB Quentin Gause

– Today’s game marked the second meeting between Rutgers and Arkansas. The Razorbacks are the first SEC team to play the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway. Rutgers is now 2-0 all-time against Arkansas and 7-11-2 all-time against the SEC.
– Rutgers has won three consecutive games against SEC competition.
– Rutgers scored on a 98-yard drive in the fourth quarter, the longest drive by yardage this season.
– Rutgers now has three touchdowns on special teams this year (two kickoff returns, one punt return).
– Today’s win marked the biggest second-half comeback since beating Vanderbilt 37-34 on the road in 2004. RU was down 27-3 in the third quarter against Vandy before the come-from-behind victory.
– It marked the first time Rutgers has come back from a two-score deficit in the second half to win in regulation since the Vanderbilt victory in 2004.
– The last time RU rallied from a 17-point deficit was the victory over No. 3 Louisville in 2006 when the Scarlet Knights were down 25-7 in the second quarter and came back to defeat the Cardinals 28-25.
– RU ranked fifth against the run coming into the game and held the Razorbacks to 101 yards on the ground. UA was averaging 294.3 yards per game rushing (11th nationally). The Hogs averaged just 3.0 yards per carry against Rutgers. Entering the game Arkansas was averaging 5.5 yards per rush.
– The RU defense held Arkansas to 283 total yards, improving to 46-5 since 2000 when holding an opponent under 300 yards.
– Rutgers finished with 400 yards oftotal offense. It marked the third time in four games this season RU has eclipsed the 400-yard mark of total offense. Rutgers finished with just three games of 400 yards of total offense all of last season.
– Rutgers has 925 yards of total offense and has scored 63 points against the Razorbacks over the last two seasons.
– The crowd of 51,969 was the fifth-largest crowd in Rutgers history.
Largest Crowds at Rutgers
1. 53,737 vs. Cincinnati (9/7/09)
2. 52,798 vs. Louisville (11/29/12)
3. 52,534 vs. West Virginia (12/5/09)
4. 52,038 vs. North Carolina (9/25/10)
5. 51,969 vs. Arkansas (9/21/13)

– TE Tyler Kroft recorded a game-high six receptions for 133 yards to become the first RU tight end to go over 100 yards in a game since Clark Harris in the 2006 Texas Bowl against Kansas State. Kroft entered the game with eight career catches. In addition, he has notched a career-high 42-yard reception against Arkansas the last two seasons.
– WR Janarion Grant ran back a touchdown on a 58-yard punt return in the third quarter. He is the first Scarlet Knight to have a kickoff and punt return for a score in the same season since Willie Foster in 2005.
– Grant finished with four punt returns for 106 yards and the score. He is the first player in the 2000s for the Scarlet Knights to finish with over 100 punt return yards in a game.
– QB Gary Nova threw for 346 yards today and three touchdowns, bringing his total to 743 and eight scoring passes in thelast two years against Arkansas.
– WR Leonte Carroo caught two touchdowns in the fourth quarter bringing his total to four in the final period this season. Carroo finished with five receptions for 80 yards, including his 33-yard touchdown reception on 4th down and 12 in the fourth quarter.
– Sophomore RB Paul James entered the game as the nation’s leading rusher. The Glassboro native rushed 17 times for 80 yards before leaving the game with a lower leg injury.
– Sophomore OLB Quentin Gause finished with seven tackles and a career-best three tackles-for-loss in his first career start.
– Junior OLB Kevin Snyder led Rutgers with 10 tackles.


QB | #10 | Gary Nova

On the 98-yard touchdown drive…

“On the 98-yard drive, I think the play to Brandon Coleman [stood out]. The catch that he made really set the drive off and I think we did a really great job. A guy like Quron Pratt, whenever his number is called he seems to catch the ball. He’s played a lot of positions today and threw a lot of key blocks in the run game and it was just a total team effort.”

On Tyler Kroft at tight end…

“I think [Tyler] Kroft is getting better every week. We knew that he was a good matchup on the inside linebackers and we tried to exploit that early, which we did. We dialed it up early in the game and he ran great routes and did everything.”

On scoring a touchdown right before halftime…

“[The touchdown before the half] was huge. Before we drove the ball we couldn’t just do whatever we wanted and we were killing ourselves. We knew that we really wanted to get on the board, even if it was a field goal. Luckily it was a touchdown and we were excited in the locker room and we knew we had set ourselves up with a chance to win.”

On his connection with WR Leonte Carroo…

“Obviously [Leonte Carroo and I] went to the same high school and I’ve known him since I was 14 years old. He’s one of my best friends. We didn’t execute early on in one-on-one coverage but we dialed it up later on.”

On if he has a special chemistry with Carroo…

“I think I have chemistry with all these guys but obviously me and Leonte have been through so much together and I definitely trust him. But it wasn’t just me dropping back and just throwing it to him it just happened to be a part of the read.”

LB | #45 | Kevin Snyder

On keeping the Arkansas run game in check…

“That’s the way we’re built. That’s one thing we pride ourselves on – stopping the run. We’ve built ourselves up physically to stop the run and it was just execution. We didn’t do anything special, we didn’t do any special blitzes or anything, we played our base defense and we got after it.”

On the play of Quentin Gause…

“I thought [Quentin Gause] played awesome, and every time he plays he plays well because he works so hard. He’s trying to learn all the time. Sometimes it doesn’t come as fast but he’s trying to learn all the time. Just being able to see him go out there and really fly around it’s a good thing.”

On regaining momentum in the second half…

“It was one of those things where they schemed us up a little bit [to start the second half]. We had a couple missed tackles and a couple missed assignments but it was one of those things we were saying to each other ‘we’re not worn down, we’re OK.’ There was no panic, we were fine and we just had to get back in the swing of it again.”

WR | #4 | Leonte Carroo

On his expanded role today…

“The last two games I think I had one catch in two games. My coaches and Gary just wanted to grant me with a touchdown. For the last two games I’ve just been blocking and I haven’t been complaining or anything like that. I’ve just been blocking, getting the running game going and when I came to the sideline my coaches were like ‘hey, [Paul James] has been holding us down for the last two games and now this win is going to have to come from one of you guys in the wide receiver corps.’ I looked at him and I told him ‘I’m going to win this game for us.’”

On the passing game…

“If you really love football and you just go out there and you play, you never know what’s going to happen. We didn’t know what type of coverages Eastern Michigan or Norfolk State were going to play and it kind of stopped our passing game. But you just have to go out there and play and open up the running game. Tonight we didn’t get the running game going as well as we did in the last two games so it was only bound for the wide receiver corps to step up.”

WR/Returner | #1 | Janarion Grant

On his touchdown return…

“I was back there and ready to take the punt. They did a roll punt and they kicked it and as it was in the air I saw where I was and where I was going to be able to field the ball. I saw most of their guys going wide left and on my right there was just nothing but green grass and that’s when I took it to my advantage and scored a touchdown.”

On how he thinks he helped the team…

“I think [my punt returns] helped us out. We had great field advantage and we were able to run the clock down, get in the end zone and come out with a victory.”

LB | #50 | Quentin Gause

On the change in momentum…

“After any touchdown it gets the defense hyped and ready to get back onto the field to perform and stop the run like we did tonight.”

On what he was focused on for the game…

“All I thought about was stopping the run. They have some great backs on their team and I think they’re in the top-10 right now in the SEC. That’s where my focus was for this week.”

On how he prepared for Arkansas…

“I prepared hard this week. Jamal Merrell, you know me and him prepared for the event. I just came out today and kept my intensity at one level and my focus at the same level too. We just go out there and play football and have fun and great results happen.”

On the win…

“It was great [playing Arkansas]. Watching them on film, the tight end and the fullback, they were tossing people around. Tonight I got my hands on them and tossed them. It talked a lot about our defense and how we play and our d-line, we played our butts off tonight. It was just amazing.”

TE | #86 | Tyler Kroft

On his timing with QB Gary Nova…

“I’m definitely building a good rapport with Gary. Gary and I are really good friends up here. We’re good off the field and Gary’s been throwing to me a lot on the field so I guess it’s just coming to fruition in the games.”

On his overall thoughts on the game…

“I’m still taking it all in right now, it’s kind of surreal. They threw the ball to me a lot tonight and I’m still just trying to take it all in.”

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