PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers saved its season with a couple of momentous plays on both sides of the ball in the final two minutes against Temple.
Embattled Gary Nova threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Leonte Carroo on a fourth-and-10 play with 35 seconds to go and Rutgers snapped a two-game losing streak with an improbable 23-20 victory on Saturday.
The eight-play, 72-yard march with no time outs came a little more than a minute after linebackers Kevin Snyder and Steve Longa stopped Kenneth Harper for a 1-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 at the Scarlet Knights 27 to give them one last chance.
"I had no doubt we were going to win the game once we got it back after our defense stopped them," said Nova, who threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns in a week where his job was on the line because of poor play in the previous two games. "I knew we were going to go out and score or get a field goal and force overtime. We weren't going to lose the game right there."
Carroo, who had career highs of seven receptions for 147 yards, made sure Rutgers (5-3, 2-2 American Athletic Conference) won with his second 33-yard, fourth-down TD catch of the season and his second TD of the game. It was another go pattern, the same one he used to score against Arkansas in another comeback win.
It also came on a play that Temple (1-8, 0-5) sent the house on a blitz and didn't get to Nova.
"It's an all or nothing play in terms of, yes, you either make the first down or the game is over, but it's not just an all or nothing play to Leonte," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. "It just so happens he has had the one-on-one and we feel like he's gonna win, and he has had separation in all three of those cases where he's caught it. Fortunate for us we can put him out there."
There would have been no heroics had it not been for Snyder and Longa, who took advantage of a blitz change up called by coordinator Dave Cohen with just under 2:00 minutes to play. He had them rush up the gaps between the center and guard instead of going outside to stop Harper, who caught a touchdown and ran for another.
"This feels awesome," said Longa, who had 12 tackles, the same as Snyder. "This is the things you work during the week for. We knew we put too much work in in the week. It was our game, we couldn't go out without a W in our house."