LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Oct. 10, 2013) – Falling behind early, Rutgers (4-2, 1-1 AAC) got the game within one score, but a late touchdown by No. 8 Louisville (6-0, 2-0 AAC) handed the Scarlet Knights a 24-10 loss at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Thursday night.
Redshirt freshman LB Steve Longa (Saddlebrook, N.J.) led the Rutgers defense with 11 tackles in the contest.
The Cardinals got on the board first. Louisville got down to the RU three yard line, but a defensive stand by the Scarlet Knights forced the Cards’ John Wallace to kick a 24-yard field goal with 7:32 remaining in the opening quarter.
After alternating possessions, Louisville grabbed an interception and took over on the Rutgers 35 yard line. On second down, QB Teddy Bridgewater hit WR Kai De La Cruz for a 34-yard touchdown. The Cardinals took a 10-0 lead with 14:02 left in the half.
Louisville took over again at the 12:27 mark in the second. The Cardinals went seven plays for 80 yards with the help of 24 rush yards from both Bridgewater and RB Senorise Perry. Perry capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to give UofL a 17-0 lead with 8:08 remaining in the second quarter.
The Scarlet Knights answered, taking over at their own 30 yard line. RU drove to the UofL 27 yard line, highlighted by a 19-yard pass from junior QB Gary Nova (Elmwood Park, N.J.) to junior WR Brandon Coleman (Accokeek, Md.). On fourth and three, the Scarlet Knight sent out their field goal unit. After breaking the huddle, senior holder J.T. Tartacoff (Skillman, N.J.) lined up as the only man in the backfield in a shotgun and sophomore PK Kyle Federico (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) lined up at receiver. After the snap, Tartacoff hit sophomore TE Tyler Kroft (Downingtown, Pa.) for a 26-yard gain. On the very next play, Nova found Kroft in the end zone to cut the Louisville lead to 17-7 with 2:01 to go in the second. The score would remain going into the break.
The Cards took over the ball to start the second half. The Scarlet Knights stopped Louisville after the Cardinals drove all the way to the RU 12 yard line. UofL attempted a field goal, but it was blocked by Rutgers senior LB Jamal Merrell (Bear, Del.), the sixth blocked kick of his career. The Scarlet Knights would not capitalize on the special teams play.
On Louisville’s next drive, it was the Rutgers defense that came up big this time. On first and 10, Perry took the ball on a handoff up the middle and senior RU DE Marcus Thompson (Oakland Park, Fla.) forced him to fumble, which was recovered by freshman DB Anthony Cioffi (Springfield, N.J.) at the UofL 36 yard line.
The Scarlet Knights capitalized, shaving Louisville’s lead to 17-10 after a 36-yard field goal by Federico with 14:10 left in the contest.
Louisville got the ball again and drove again, down to the RU five yard line. Cioffi made another huge play, coming around the end and hitting Bridgewater, who lost the ball. Rutgers junior DE David Milewski (Sayreville, N.J.) recovered the ball, giving the Scarlet Knights possession with 10:06 on the clock.
On Rutgers’ ensuing possession, the Cardinals recorded another interception and took over at their own 48 yard line. Wallace lined up for a 45-yard field goal, but missed, giving the Scarlet Knights the ball at their 28 yard line.
Another RU turnover gave UofL the ball again with 5:29 remaining on their 40 yard line. Following a 42-yard run by Perry, Louisville was at the Rutgers 13 yard line. Three plays later, Bridgewater hit WR Eli Rogers for a six-yard touchdown, putting UofL up 24-10 with 2:27 left.
The Scarlet Knights took over, but wouldn’t score in the final minutes.
- This was the first game this season all four captains saw game action: WR Brandon Coleman, LB Jamal Merrell, DL Jamil Merrell, QB Gary Nova
- Today’s game marked the final conference meeting between the two teams. Rutgers leads the all-time series 7-6.
- LB Jamal Merrell’s blocked field goal in the third quarter was the 33rd blocked kick for Rutgers since 2009, most in the nation.
- The Rutgers defense held the Cardinals to a season-low 24 points in the game. The previous low was 27 at Kentucky. They were averaging 44.4 points per game.
- RU forced three UofL turnovers (two fumbles, one interception). The Cardinals previous worst in a game was one turnover.
- Louisville had scored points in 29 straight quarters, but that streak was stopped in the third quarter.
- The Scarlet Knights scored a season-low 10 points in the game. The team had recorded at least 28 points in the first five games of the season.
- LB Steve Longa totaled four tackles on the first defensive series on the way to 11 for the game. He has now led the team in tackles in four games this season.
- LB Davon Jacobs and DL Jamil Merrell teamed up on a sack in the first quarter. Merrell leads active RU players with 7.0 career sacks.
- H J.T. Tartacoff, coming in with the field goal personnel, completed his first career pass for 26 yards to TE Tyler Kroft on a fourth down late in the second quarter. RU scored a touchdown on its next offensive play.
- TE Tyler Kroft scored a touchdown for the third straight game. The tight end has 13 receptions in the last three games.
- DB Jeremy Deering collected his first career interception toward the end of the second quarter. A versatile player, he has now run for touchdown, caught a touchdown, returned a kickoff for a touchdown, threw a pass, made a tackle and intercepted a pass in his career.
- LB Jamal Merrell blocked a field goal attempt on the opening drive of the third quarter. It was the sixth blocked kick of his career.
- FB Michael Burton recorded a career-high 24-yard reception out of the backfield. His previous high was 17 yards last game at SMU.
- P Nick Marsh put down two of his four punts inside the 20 yard line. He also had a season-long 58-yard punt.
- DL Marcus Thompson caused a fumble for the first time in his career, stripping the running back in Louisville territory. DB Anthony Cioffi recovered the loose ball. Cioffi also recovered a blocked punt against Norfolk State earlier this season.
- Cioffi then followed with a forced fumble on a sack on the next defensive possession. Both were the first of his career.