Rutgers Falls Short Against UNC 17-13

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Despite an inspired performance by the defense, Rutgers offense continued to be a source of frustration and this time it cost the Scarlet Knights in a 17-13 loss to North Carolina on Saturday at Rutgers Stadium. The offense failed to take advantage of several turnovers and good field position, and quarterback Tom Savage gave himself plenty of blame.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The bye week did little to ease the critics of Rutgers' offense, or those of sophomore quarterback Tom Savage.

While the Scarlet Knights' defense was again tremendous, holding North Carolina time and again while also creating three turnovers, the offense was against stagnant as Rutgers fell to the Tar Heels 17-13 in front of 52,038 Saturday at Rutgers Stadium.

Rutgers' first loss of the season was wrought with miscues and frustration, capped by a final drive that began on North Carolina's 34-yard line and ended on the Tar Heels' 38.

"We left too much on the table today," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "You know, I don't like listening to coaches say, ‘We left too much on the table.' I sound like a lot of guys. They had something to do with it, right?"

Savage finished 16 of 29 for 150 yards, but the two interceptions were incredibly costly.

One came with the Scarlet Knights holding a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and driving, and the other came late in the fourth quarter when he had Jeremy Deering open near the end zone and the Rutgers trailing by four points, but threw behind him.

"It's frustrating when you know you can do it," Savage said. "It's frustrating when you've made the throws before. It's frustrating when guys are open and I know my talent and I know I can make the throws, and I will.

"My feet …it's pretty much what my inaccuracy is, my feet. My feet are terrible right now."

Even on Rutgers' last drive, set up when the defense held after Savage's second interception, the offense looked out of sync.

After a pair of incompletion passes from the North Carolina 34, Savage was sacked. His desperation fourth-and-14 throw down the left sideline to a covered Mohamed Sanu was overthrown, although Sanu slowed on his route.

"It's a loss for all of us," Rutgers safety Khaseem Greene said. "It's not just a loss for the offense or the defense. It's a loss for all of us. We just try to encourage each other and know that we have another game coming up."

Rutgers also had trouble rushing the ball, with many of the 87 yards (37 attempts) coming from Sanu in the Wildcat package.

The offense was further hampered by penalties as many of the Scarlet Knights' 11 came on that side of the ball.

"I am concerned, because we are not doing the things we need to do," Schiano said. "You need to be able to run the football (and) we rushed for 87 yards. There's some good plays we are making, but we are just not we are making too many that aren't good.

"We just have to go back to the drawing board and figure it out. We have some pieces. There's some pieces that have to get better."

Defensively, the Scarlet Knights did plenty to aid the offense, interception a pass and recovering a pair of fumbles.

In fact, Sanu's 10-yard touchdown run, which came with 2:19 left in the first quarter and gave Rutgers a 10-0 lead, capped a 20-yard drive after Antonio Lowery's fumble return.

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