Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr had one more play in his reservoir than Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova and star receiver Brandon Coleman. Where Carr connected with ease for his 74thpassing attempt, Nova's final pass sailed through Coleman's outstretched fingertips and handed Fresno a 52-51 victory.
"It was just a little off his fingertips," said Rutgers coach Kyle Flood. "[It was] just a little too wide. Ultimately, I will be judged by those decision. I don't regret it. I told both players I'd do it again if I had the opportunity."
Flood rolled the dice all night but his final gamble sent Rutgers back to New Jersey with a loss. Opting to go for a two-point conversion and the win in overtime, Rutgers bootlegged Nova to his right. On the move, Nova fired his final pass of the night.
"I felt like that was a great opportunity to win the game," Flood said. "We actually had made a decision at the start of that drive, that if we scored a touchdown we were going to go for two."
The final blemish, in many ways, overshadowed dynamic nights for Nova and Coleman. Carr stole the show offensively, but both Rutgers impact players showed signs of greatness.
Nova improved his pocket presence and finished with 348 passing yards and five touchdown to one interceptions. There were throws he wanted back, but Nova showed the same offseason growth and maturity that came in training camp.
"I felt really good out there today," Nova said. "Even after the interception I knew that we would get the ball back. The guys made great plays on the outside, the offensive line did a great job of protecting."
Carr, the reigning conference player of the year, was on point, but not infallible. The Rutgers defense forced him to make mistakes out of the pocket, but it was not nearly enough to stop a record-setting day.
For a team that prides itself on defensive execution, Rutgers surrendered 470 yards and five touchdowns on an astonishing 53-for-74 night for Carr.
"This is why you play college football and unfortunately we wound up on the losing end of it," Nova said.