Houston Crushes Rutgers, 49-14
Another bad game by Gary Nova has Rutgers coach Kyle Flood considering a change at quarterback.
Flood watched Nova throw three more interceptions on Saturday and the Scarlet Knights turned the ball over a season-high six times in a 49-14 loss to Houston.
The second-year head coach lifted Nova in the third quarter and inserted Chas Dodd. After the game, Flood said he wanted to watch videotapes before deciding on his quarterback for next weekend’s game against Temple.
Nova has thrown seven interceptions in the last two games, both losses. He completed 7 of 15 passes for 138 yards against Houston (6-1, 3-0 American Athletic Conference).
“We have a lot invested in him,” Flood said. “Today it was in his best interest to watch. I don’t know (about making a change), I’d have to look at film to make that judgment. He made some poor decisions. Every week we want to put the best players out there. If we have the best pieces in the right place, we feel we have the best chance to win. We have to reevaluate everything we do”
Houston safety Adrian McDonald had two of the Cougars’ five interceptions, which included one by Dodd and one by running back Savon Huggins. He smiled when asked about Nova.
“We have faced better guys than him,” McDonald said.
Flood is more than satisfied with what he’s been getting from freshman running back Justin Goodwin, who provided the highlights for Rutgers (4-3, 1-2). Goodwin finished with a career-best 161 yards rushing on a career-high 31 carries. His second touchdown of the game, a 14-yard burst in the second quarter led to a 14-14 tie.
“It wasn’t the plan going in to ride him the way we did,” Flood said of Goodwin’s workload. “When you have a tailback get into a rhythm during a game, you have to give him a chance to do that. That’s why we gave him so many carries.”
Houston had a lot more options.
Freshman John O’Korn threw for career bests of 364 yards and five touchdowns, with three going to Deontay Greenberry, who also had a career day. The sophomore receiver caught eight passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns, with the yardage and TDs being personal bests.
O’Korn came into the game leading all true freshmen with 14 touchdown passes and he added to the total, hitting 24 of 30 attempts to help Houston rebound from its first loss of the season. His scoring passes covered 10, 83 and 5 yards to Greenberry, 26 to DeMarcus Ayers and 2 yards to Aaron Johnson. Kenneth Farrow also scored on a 40-yard run and backup quarterback Greg Ward Jr. added a 2-yard TD run for the Cougars, gained 611 yards in total offense.
Houston came into the game leading the nation in takeaways (21) and turnover margin (14) and they only added to those numbers in intercepting five passes, including three against starter Gary Nova, and recovering a fumble.
O’Korn and the Cougars defense helped break the game open midway through the second quarter with two touchdowns in 52 seconds that turned a 14-all tie into a 28-14 halftime lead.
On the first play from scrimmage after Goodwin tied the game with 14 yards run, O’Korn hit Greenberry on a slant that turned into an 83-yard catch-and-run to daylight.
Safety Trevon Stewart forced and recovered a fumble at the 23 by fullback Michael Burton on Rutgers’ second play from scrimmage on the next series. After an incompletion, O’Korn found Ayers on a streak pattern down the left sideline for a 14-point lead.
Rutgers’ best chance to get back in the game came on the opening series of the second half. With Goodwin carrying the ball almost every down, Rutgers reached the Houston 22 after Nova hit tight end Tyler Kroft on a 31-yard pass play. After a time out, the Scarlet Knights got cute. They called a halfback option by backup Savon Huggins. He circled to his right and threw the ball right to Houston’s McDonald.
O’Korn then came on the field and led an 11-play, 84-yard scoring drive that ended with his toss to a wide-open Johnson for a touchdown.
Nova finished 7 of 15 for 138 yards before being relieved by Chas Dodd in the third quarter. Nova has thrown seven interceptions in the last two games, both losses.
Goodwin also scored on a 5-yard run early to give Rutgers its only lead 7-0.
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