Shattered Dreams

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — In the most significant conference game for Rutgers since its 2006 run, the Scarlet Knights did not play like a team on a three-game winning streak. Falling flat early, Rutgers' chances at a share of its first conference title slipped away in a 40-22 loss to Connecticut to end the regular season.

In what Rutgers coach Greg Schiano referred to a final exam, the Scarlet Knights, simply put, failed.

A week after dominating one of the best offenses in the Big East, Rutgers was on the other end in a devastating, 40-22, loss to Connecticut with a share of the conference title on the line.

"I don't know what happened," said receiver and team leader Mohamed Sanu. "I just know that we didn't play the way we should have. We didn't execute the way we should have It showed on the field."

The trenches, turnovers, field position and just about everything else, the Huskies (5-6, 3-3) simply dominated the Scarlet Knights (8-4, 4-3) in every aspect for 60 minutes and crushed any hopes of a BCS berth.

In the running game, UConn's Lyle McCombs torched the Scarlet Knights for 95 yards and two touchdowns. The multiple-quarterback look by the Huskies kept Rutgers off-balance and looking uncomfortable, but the special teams did the most damage.

The usually impressive special teams unit had its worst performance of the year. UConn returner Nick Williams torched Rutgers in punt and kick returns, totaling 158 return yards.

Between four returns of 30 or more yards and three brutal first-half turnovers, field position kept the Huskies comfortably ahead of the Scarlet Knights. Connecticut started at an average of its own 45-yard line to begin drives

"We clearly got our rear-ends tattooed on special teams in the kick game," said coach Greg Schiano.

The self-destruction began on the third play from scrimmage when red-shirt freshman back Jawan Jamison, who hurt himself on the play, lost a fumble on a crushing in the backfield. McCombs took it in for a touchdown two plays later and the game collapsed from there.

Dodd and fifth-year senior Caleb Ruch mishandled three center-quarterback exchanges. One went for six points the other way. The others killed drives.

"You can't win when you turn the ball over that many times," Dodd said. "We proved it here."

An interception, a 50 percent completion clip and four sacks later and Gary Nova returned as the Rutgers quarterback for the final 15 minutes of action.

Nova, however, was the same Nova that lost his starting spot to Dodd three weeks ago. Finishing 11-of-18 for 298 yards, Nova made multiple great throws including a two touchdowns to Brandon Coleman, but killed three drives with turnovers.

Moving the ball on all five drives, Nova did enough to at least create some semblance of a quarterback controversy for the bowl game.

Coleman finished with his best day at receiver, going for 223 yards and two scores including a 92-yarder. Sanu quietly totaled nine yards on 133 catches of his own.

"That's the thing about our program," Coleman said. "We're going to fight from beginning to end no matter the situation. That's what Coach kept saying from the moment we went down. We just have to keep fighting because it's going to come down to us."

The loss crushes any Rutgers hopes at a BCS bid and likely puts the Scarlet Knights in Yankee Stadium for the second time this year as a part of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against a Big 12 foe.

"It is a heart-breaking loss , especially for the whole team, the whole program," Coleman said. "We wanted to win."

Scarlet Report Top Stories