DALLAS (Oct. 5, 2013) – In its conference-opener, the Rutgers football team downed SMU in thrilling fashion, 55-52, in 3OT at Ford Stadium, Saturday. True freshman RB Justin Goodwin (Summit, N.J.) rushed for 149 yards and scored three touchdowns to help the Scarlet Knights to victory.
Offensively, Goodwin also led the squad with 73 yards receiving and junior QB Gary Nova (Elmwood Park, N.J.) threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore WR Leonte Carroo (Edison, N.J.) caught two touchdown passes, both in overtime. Defensively, redshirt freshman LB Steve Longa (Saddle Brook, N.J.) accumulated 14 tackles, including a sack. As a team, Rutgers totaled four sacks in the game.
Goodwin secured the Rutgers win in the third overtime with a 17-yard touchdown scamper, breaking numerous tackles on the way to give the Scarlet Knights the 55-52 victory.
The Scarlet Knights started off strong, holding the Mustangs to a three-and-out on its first possession of the game. On the ensuing possession, RU started at the SMU 47-yard line. On the first play, Nova connected with junior FB Michael Burton (Long Valley, N.J.) for 17 yards. Two plays later, he hit sophomore TE Tyler Kroft (Downingtown, Pa.) in the middle of the field just three yards from the goal line for a 21-yard gain. On third-and-goal, Nova ran into the corner of the end zone on a designed quarterback run for the first rushing touchdown of his career. RU led 7-0 with 11:03 on the clock in the first.
Two possessions later, Rutgers extended its lead to 14-0 with a defensive touchdown by freshman CB Nadir Barnwell (Piscataway, N.J.). A snap went over Mustang QB Garrett Gilbert and rolled into the end zone. Gilbert picked up, and was hit by DT Darius Hamilton (West Paterson, N.J.), who forced the fumble that Barnwell recovered for the touchdown with 6:44 remaining in the opening stanza.
Opening the second quarter with the ball, RU was driving again. On third-and-11, Nova connected with freshman RB Justin Goodwin (Summit, N.J.) on a screen play, and Goodwin scampered 50 yards for his first career touchdown. The Scarlet Knights took a 21-0 lead with 12:04 left in the first half.
SMU scored on the next drive to cut the lead to 21-7 with 8:06 remaining in the half, capped by a Gilbert pass to WR Jeremy Johnson on a fourth-and-1 play for a 21-yard touchdown. The Mustangs’ drive lasted 3:48, going 75 yards on nine plays. The score would remain 21-7 heading to the break.
On its opening drive of the second half, SMU got on the board again as Gilbert found WR Keenan Holman for a 55-yard touchdown strike to trim Rutgers’ lead to 21-14 with 11:57 on the clock in the third quarter.
Rutgers answered on its next possession with the help of 56 yards on the ground from Goodwin. The scoring drive, which was seven plays for 66 yards, was capped by a 10-yard strike from Nova to Kroft in the corner of the end zone. The Scarlet Knights took a 28-14 lead at the 8:24 mark in the third.
Near the end of the third quarter, highlighted by a 56-yard pass and catch from Nova to junior WR Brandon Coleman (Accokeek, Md.), Rutgers put together another scoring drive. Goodwin crossed the goal line for the second time in the game on a two-yard rush, putting RU ahead 35-14 heading into the final period.
In its first drive of the fourth quarter, Gilbert connected with Johnson for another touchdown, capping a 17-play, 74-yard SMU drive with 11:08 left to play. The Mustangs missed the extra point, leaving the score 35-20 in favor of Rutgers.
With 3:38 remaining in the game, SMU cut the lead to 35-27 Rutgers. Gilbert hit Darius Joseph for a six-yard touchdown pass, set up by a 69-yard completion to JaBryce Taylor four plays earlier that put the Mustangs on the RU 18-yard line.
SMU attempted the onside kick, but couldn’t convert. Rutgers went for it on fourth down on the ensuing possession, but wasn’t successful. The Mustangs took over at their own 35-yard line with 2:24 left in regulation.
Following a 43-yard pass from Gilbert to Johnson, SMU had the ball at the RU 20-yard line. Three plays later, Gilbert found Johnson again, who extended across the goal line for a 13-yard score. Down by two, 35-33, with 1:19 remaining, the Mustangs went for the two-point conversion, where Gilbert found Johnson in the back of the end zone to tie the game.
Rutgers took over at its own 34-yard line with 1:14 on the clock. An RU fumble gave the Mustangs the ball at their own 36-yard line with 50 seconds left in regulation, but wouldn’t score to send the game into overtime.
The Mustangs had the first possession of the first overtime period, On third-and-five, Gilbert hit Taylor for a 17-yard pass-and-catch to give SMU the ball on the RU three-yard line. Gilbert rushed for a Mustang touchdown on the following play to give SMU a 42-35 lead.
The Scarlet Knights got their chance to answer. RU converted on two fourth down plays and capped the possession with a four-yard touchdown pass from Nova to Carroo to send the game into a second overtime period tied at 42-42.
RU received the ball first in the second overtime. On third-and-24, Nova again found Carroo for a 29-yard touchdown to put the Scarlet Knights up 49-42.
SMU matched RU in its portion of the second overtime, with Gilbert running the ball in from one-yard out to finish the possession.
The Mustangs started the third overtime with the ball and converted on a 37-yard field goal from Chase Hover to take a 52-49 lead.
Down by three in the third overtime on second-and-two from the SMU 17, Nova handed to the ball to Goodwin, who shed a couple of tackles on his way to the end zone to give Rutgers the 55-52 victory.
TEAM NOTES - Today’s game marked the first meeting between Rutgers and SMU. RU last played in the Lone Star state at the 2006 Texas Bowl versus Kansas State. - Rutgers captured a win in its conference opener for the fourth straight season. - The offense scored at least 28 points for the fifth straight game. That has never been done before in program history through four games. It was the most points scored by RU in a conference opener since recording 37 in a home win over Pittsburgh Sept. 30, 2005. - DB Nadir Barnwell recovered a fumble in the end zone for the Scarlet Knights’ fourth non-offensive touchdown of the season (two kickoffs returns, one punt return, one fumble recovery). RU hadseven non-offensive scores last season, going 6-1 in those games. - RB Justin Goodwin’s 50-yard touchdown on a screen pass was the sixth Rutgers play of at least 50 yards from the line of scrimmage this season. - The 55 points scored by RU are themost since the 2008 team scored 63 in a 63-14 win vs. Louisville on Dec. 4. - RU scored 55 points at SMU and 51 at Fresno State this season. It is the first time since 2008 that the Scarlet Knights went over 50 points twice in the same season. They beat Louisville,63-14, and Pitt, 54-34, in 2008. - The game marked the second overtime contest of the season for the Scarlet Knights. The last was at Fresno State on Aug. 29. - The 3OT win marked the first overtime win since RU downed USF, 20-17, in the first overtime on Nov. 5, 2011. - Rutgers competed in only one other 3OT game in its history, a 41-39 loss to No. 15 West Virginia on Dec. 2, 2006. - The game marked the 10th overtime game in Rutgers history. The others are as follows: 8/29/13 – L – 52-51 at Fresno State 12/28/12 - L – 13-10 vs. Virginia Tech (Russell Athletic Bowl) 11/5/11 – W – 20-17 vs. USF 10/1/11 – W – 19-16 (2OT) at Syracuse 10/16/10 – W – 23-20 vs. Army 12/2/06 – L – 41-39 (3OT) at West Virginia 11/11/00 – L – 31-24 (2OT) vs. West Virginia 11/13/99 – W – 24-21 vs. Syracuse 10/25/97 – L – 55-48 vs. Pittsburgh (2OT)
INDIVIDUAL NOTES - In his 28th collegiate game, QB Gary Nova recorded his first career rushing touchdown on a bootleg from the one-yard line. - RB Justin Goodwin saw his first significant action in his career, picking up 149 yards on the ground. De’Antwan Williams was the last RU true freshman to pick up 100 yards rushing in a game versus Texas Southern (Oct. 10, 2009). Ray Rice was the last true freshman to go over 100 in a conference game versus Cincinnati (Nov. 26, 2005). - Sophomore WR Leonte Carroo scored two touchdowns in overtime. This brings his total to six touchdowns in the fourth quarter or later this season. It is also the third time this season he has had a multiple-touchdown game (three at Fresno State, two vs. Arkansas). - Goodwin picked up both a rushing andreceiving touchdown in the game. It was the first time a Rutgers player achieved that this season. He came 27 receiving yards shy of becoming the first RU player to ever record 100 yards rushing and receiving. - DL David Milewski picked up his first sack since 2011 in the first half. - LB Steve Longa recorded 14 more tackles to lead the team for the third time this season. - FB Michael Burton picked up a career-long 17-yard reception on the first offensive play of the game for Rutgers.