"The way I saw it, what our onside kick was today was an attempt by one kicker to look like he was kicking the ball. Ryan Sands was down and he kicked the ball. When the first kicker approached the football their entire half of the field came across the ten-yard line. The ball hadn't been kicked yet. So, I thought they were off-sides," stated Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano.
Having scored a pair of quick touchdowns late in the 4th quarter, the Scarlet Knights had clawed their way back for a second time this afternoon. The ensuing on sides kick with less than two minutes to play needed to result in a Rutgers possession if the Scarlet Knights were to give themselves another opportunity to bring their offense on the field. The "Vanderbilt", however, was never given a chance.
The ensuing mis-direction play was too good - it had West Virginia looking one way, only to see the ball fly off of Sands' foot in a completely different direction. Too good indeed - the refs may have been the looking the wrong way entirely.
Rutgers' plague all year has been their inability to hold on to the ball. And in the end, it wound up being the difference once again. Considering the Scarlet Knights put two fumbles on the ground, lost both, and threw two interceptions, while forcing no turnovers of their own, one is left looking for answers as to how this game wasn't decided until the very end.
Rasheed Marshall continued to pace West Virginia as he scampered into the endzone from 7 yards out on West Virginia's next offensive possession.
The Rutgers defense, which had been put in back to back difficult situations early on, bent, but did not break.
Unlike previous Scarlet Knight games, West Virginia decided to pound at the Rutgers defense, not through the air, but on the ground. The Mountaineers elusive dual threat quarterback, Rasheed Marshall, connected on 9 of 13 passes for 165 yards (a chunk of which came on a pass play to Chris Henry that may have been a questionable offensive pass interference that went uncalled), and rushed for 79 yards. The Rutgers secondary, which has been picked apart by opposing offenses and the media, played well at times.
"We got caught today in three times when we were one-on-one with the receiver. We did as many things as we could do schematically to have double coverage on "5" [Henry]. You had to pick your poison a bit," stated Schiano.
The three-headed monster of Jason Colson, Rasheed Marshall, and Pernell Williams, rushed for over 200 yards on the day. West Virginia had 432 yards of total offense, only 165 of which came through the air.
Last week Rutgers fell behind early and was never able to recover. This week, the same seemed to be scripted, but as has been the case in several games, Rutgers managed to fight back. In the end, however, it's just another loss, the fourth of a season that once looked so promising.
"They're all tough [losses]. Don't worry about that team. Don't worry about this coach. Contrary to some of the popular opinions right now in the great state of New Jersey, people instead of trying to build this thing, they're trying to tear it down. We will be fine, so just buckle down and get ready. You're going be sick of me before it's all over."
Certainly, one thing that no one can take away from this current group of Rutgers players, is the fight in them. Down, in previous Rutgers versions, would have meant out. This has not been the case all year, and the Scarlet Knights continue to play down after down irregardless of the scoreboard. Today, the comeback fell just short. Eventually, one only hopes, Rutgers will no longer fall short.
"This is a group that is down there right now with one thing on their mind - getting ready for Boston College."
Notes: Gary Gibson was in street clothes in the second half. His status for next week is unknown.
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