Midway through the third quarter and trailing 13-3 against host Syracuse University Saturday afternoon, the Rutgers University football program was looking for a spark. With the offense sputtering under its starting quarterback, sophomore Chas Dodd, head coach Greg Schiano made a change to true freshman Gary Nova.
"I thought Chad (Dodd) was a little out of sync today," said Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. "(Offensive coordinator) Frank (Cignetti) and I decided to give Gary a chance. Chas didn't look like himself."
In just a quarter and a half (and a few extra possession because of double overtime), Nova went 13-of-21 with 118 yards and tossed a game-tying touchdown to junior wide receiver Mohamed Sanu with 2:09 remaining in regulation. During Rutgers' first possession in OT, Nova completed a nine yard pass to Sanu and a four-yarder to fullback senior Joe Martinek. The two completions helped setup senior kicker San San Te for a 27-yard field goal, which sent the game into double overtime. A few plays later, San Te would nail a 47-yard field goal, which ended up being the game winner after Syracuse's senior tailback Antwon Bailey fumbled on the Orange's second play in double OT.
There were times in the game where Nova looked awful -- twice the freshman was in the grasp of a sack, but forced a throw that could have led to a fumble or did lead to an intentional grounding; and a few delay of game penalties that came because of lack of communication or crowd noise -- but in the end, Nova got the job done and Rutgers escaped Syracuse with a come-from-behind victory thanks to its true freshman, and possible future leader.
"That game was so crazy," said Schiano."We had some management issues, including burning timeouts and having delay of games. You expect that, but don't hope for it with a rookie quarterback. He obviously needs to work very hard on that if he wants to be in there."
Schiano did say he'll need to look at the tape to decided whether Nova or Dodd will start next week against visiting Pittsburgh.
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