Rutgers Stalls Late in Loss to Notre Dame

NEW YORK -- The Rutgers defense wore down late, and the Chas Dodd-led offense could not maintain drives in a second half dominated by Notre Dame. Tied at halftime of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Rutgers lost its momentum at Yankee Stadium and lost 29-16 in the final game of 2013.

Rutgers may have picked up a small moral victory by keeping it close against Notre Dame, but the feeling of disappointment dominated the post-game commentary in the 29-16 Pinstripe Bowl loss.

The Scarlet Knights failed to steal the New York City spotlight from the Fighting Irish, and finish the season with a 6-7 record – the first losing record since 2010.

"It's a huge difference in everyone's eyes that's associated with the program," said quarterback Chas Dodd on a losing record. "It's a huge difference. Still, we came out here and we fought hard. At the end of the day, it wasn't enough. We didn't get that W, and that's what you ultimately strive to do."

Rutgers (6-7, 2-5) brought improvements defensively before completely wearing down in a second half where Notre Dame (9-4) dominated time of possession. Cutting it to a three-point lead on a 47-yard field goal from Kyle Federico, Rutgers let Notre Dame pick apart an exhausted defense.

The winning drive for Notre Dame killed six minutes of clock, and made it a two-score game on a touchdown run from Tarean Folston.

The Rutgers defense showed signs of improvement under interim coordinator Joe Rossi. The Notre Dame offense, however, overpowered the Scarlet Knights late despite an inconsistent passing performance from quarterback Tommy Rees.

Notre Dame left Yankee Stadium with 494 yards of total offense. The Rutgers defense left Yankee Stadium giving up the most yards in any season in Rutgers history.

"They had drives all through the game," said coach Kyle Flood. "… Ultimately for me, we had opportunities in the second half that we just didn't capitalize on. We had some great kickoff returns by [freshman] Janarion Grant, getting the ball at the [Notre Dame] 47 and the [Notre Dame] 45 and only yield three points."

Dodd made plays with his feet in his final football game. Dodd kept multiple field-goal drives alive on third and long runs. He and receiver Brandon Coleman made the biggest plays offensively in their final collegiate games.

Coleman caught the biggest offensive play of the day, a 51-yard pass, and tied the school record with his 20th career touchdown catch.

Special teams shined the brightest for Rutgers, where four returning starters made impact plays. Cornerback Anthony Cioffi and linebacker Quentin Gause combined for a fumble recovery on a punt to set up the first field goal for Rutgers. Federico rebounded from a rough first-half start to the season with his best kicking performance as a Scarlet Knight.

True freshman Janarion Grant nearly scored twice on kick returns of 51 and 44 yards respectively.

"I think the game itself is so emotional," Flood said. "There's so much that goes into a bowl game, with the weeks of preparation. You look in the eyes of the seniors in your locker room after the game, and it's the last time that they'll suit up as Rutgers football players and how much it means to them. The day itself is a very emotionally-draining day."


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