When Darnell Davis Jr. saw free football on the turf and a wide-open field in front of him, one thought came to mind.
“I was running a stunt and I saw the ball right on the ground, just picked it up and my mentality was score — do not get caught,” Davis said. “I mean, you got to change the whole momentum of the game and it did.”
Davis took a fumble 75 yards to the house to give Rutgers a 17-13 lead with 4:33 left in the first half. Julian Pinnix-Odrick jarred the ball loose from Zander Diamont on a speed-option right, and Davis did the rest to swing the momentum in the Scarlet Knights’ favor.
Despite one of four forced turnovers on the day, Rutgers (2-7, 0-6) was unable to hold on in the eventual 33-27 loss to Indiana (5-4, 3-3).
“You have to win the game,” Davis said. “Defense wins games. Offense is doing great and just got to keep it moving. For the defensive side, we still have some mistakes. I mean, I know we got (four) turnovers. But like I was saying before, we got to clean up the details.”
Rutgers picked off Indiana twice and forced two fumbles, but the Hoosiers scored three touchdowns in the second half.
“It’s frustration, but that’s not the only thing,” he said. “We got to clean up all the small details and we’ll come out with a win soon, very soon. … Obviously we’re frustrated about the loss, but it’s just little details we really have to clean up.”
Outside of two big-play touchdown runs, Rutgers contained Indiana on the ground. The Hoosiers had 3.3 yards per rush one week after they piled up 414 yards and six touchdowns against Maryland.
But deficiencies in the pass defense — Indiana threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns — came back to haunt Rutgers by the end of the game.
“It hurts, but you can’t go down in a football game,” Davis said. “You can’t be down on yourself. When you get down on yourself, they’re just going to run up the score. You just got to play the next play like it’s your last. Can’t think about the other plays, even if you mess up. Say you make a mistake — you can’t think about that. It’s next play with football, all the time.”