The Rutgers football team had every opportunity to steal a win from UNC in a tough road environment, but simply could not piece together enough plays to go home happy, losing 24-22.
"We had too many missed opportunities offensively," said head coach Greg Schiano after the loss. "We dropped two touchdown passes again today. It's so hard to create big plays. ... If we catch those two balls, it's 14 points, so we have to ... focus better. We have to make those catches. When the ball's on the money you have to make those catches." In all, Rutgers dropped two touchdowns, whiffed on a two-point conversion that could have tied the game, committed seven second-half penalties and averaged 0.04 yards per carry.
"It's tough," said quarterback Chas Dodd, who threw a career-high 47 passes. "We didn't run the ball as well as we wanted to today. I know that's going to be a big emphasis in practice this week." The Scarlet Knights (1-1) gave up multiple big plays against UNC, but more than held its own against a veteran, talented offense.
Quarterback Bryn Renner did not come close to repeating his impressive week one performance. The sophomore threw three picks as the Rutgers defense flustered him with a solid pass rush.
"I think we did a good job of getting to the quarterback," said junior defensive tackle Scott Vallone. "A lot of hits, their guy, we put him on his back a lot. I think it showed." Dodd started slow in the passing game, but built up a strong connection with Mohamed Sanu as the game went on. Sanu hauled in 13 balls for 119 yards, including a terrific one-handed touchdown grab.
"I thought I overthrew him and he made a great play," Dodd said. "He's going to be doing that all year and we have a lot of guys that can. It's good to have guys like that on the field."
Sanu and Dodd also combined on the first missed opportunity of the day.
On first and goal after Duron Harmon's interception and long return, Sanu beat his defender at the line, but lost track of a mis-placed pass in the end-zone. From there, De'Antwan Williams failed twice from within three yards and Dodd fell short on a bootleg to turn it over.
Rutgers took the ball away five times, but a few big plays from Carolina (2-0) was enough to solidify a victory.
UNC's best receiver, Dwight Jones, burned Logan Ryan on the opening series and went 66 yards for a score. Running back Giovani Bernard, in his first career start, broke a 60-yard run in the third quarter that proved to be the difference
"In the end, I think they made more plays on offense than we did on defense," Vallone said. "I think that's the story of the game."