PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Gary Nova threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Leonte Carroo on a fourth-and-10 play with 35 seconds to go to give Rutgers an improbable 23-20 victory over Temple 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.
Nova threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns, including the last two to Carroo as the Scarlet Knights (5-3, 2-2 American Athletic Conference) ended a two-game losing streak. He did not throw an interception after having seven in the two losses.
Harper had put the Owls (1-8, 0-5) ahead 20-16 with a 25-yard run with 10:57 to play. True freshman P.J. Walker threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns in his return to New Jersey.
Rutgers, which also got a 30-yard field goal from Kyle Federico, iced the game when converted receiver Ruhann Peele forced and recovered a fumble by Ryan Alderman in the closing seconds.
Nova, who had to beat out Chas Dodd to get the start this week, hit 27 of 38 attempts. His other TD to Carroo covered 34 yards, which came one play after Jamal Merrell intercepted a pass. Fullback Michael Burton caught a 4-yard TD early in the third quarter as the Scarlet Knights closed a 13-3 halftime deficit to 13-9 after missing the extra point.
Carroo finished with a career-best seven receptions for 147 yards.
After Carroo’s first touchdown gave Rutgers a 16-13 lead, Walker led Temple on a 62-yard drive that Harper capped with an untouched run into the end zone.
Rutgers had a chance to retake the lead when it moved to the Owls 17, but Justin Goodwin fumbled and linebacker Blaze Caponegro recovered with 8:54 to go. The Owls then ran out most of the clock and would have won the game had not Snyder and Longa stopped Harper.
Walker’s touchdown passes covered 26 yards to Robby Anderson late in the first quarter and four yards to Harper just before halftime.
After two three-and-outs to open the game, Walker hit all four of his passes for 65 yards on an eight-play 92-yard march that he capped with his 26-yarder to Anderson on a go pattern up the left sideline. The extra point by Nick Visco bounced off the upright.
Rutgers should have taken the lead on its next series, after getting a first and goal inside the 1-yard, but a comedy of errors followed. There were consecutive procedure penalties and another call for 12 men in the huddle, putting the ball at the 16. Justin Goodwin lost five yards on a first down run and the Scarlet Knights eventually settled for a 30-yard field goal by Federico, cutting the Owls’ lead to 6-3 with 11 minutes left in the half.
Walker stretched the lead to 10 points with his play-action toss to a wide open Harper, who had 12 rushes for 49 yards.
Federico missed a 40-yard field goal attempt just before halftime.
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