They didn't stop Tevin Coleman, but in the end, they didn't have to.
Despite Coleman's career-high 307 rushing yards, Rutgers handily beat the Hoosiers 45-23 in the last home game of the season. Indiana finished with less rushing yards as a team than Coleman, mostly due to six sacks on Hoosier QB Zander Diamont. The freshman quarterback looked every bit the part of a young signal-caller thrust into the starting role before he was ready, as the Rutgers pass rush made life difficult for him all game long. His receivers didn't do him any favors, however, as they frequently dropped passes on key drives. That's a credit to the Scarlet Knight defense too. Rutgers defensive backs had good coverage on Indiana's receivers and didn't give up too much of a cushion on passing situations. Aside from a blown play in which Diamont found a wide-open Shane Wynn for a 28-yard touchdown toss, Rutgers did a fine job defending the pass.
Before the first half ended, things didn't look too good for Rutgers. With 30 seconds left on the clock, Kyle Flood elected to go for a fourth-down conversion but was stopped when Josh Hicks rushed for no gain. On the very next play, Tevin Coleman ran untouched for a 67-yard touchdown. During the ensuing kickoff, Janarion Grant flashed his return ability that fans have been waiting all season to see, going 71 yards to give the Scarlet Knights the ball at the Indiana 29. Kyle Federico lined up his kick, but his attempt hit the crossbar and bounced backward into the endzone. At half, it was Indiana 13, Rutgers 10.
The second half was all Rutgers. Gary Nova threw two touchdowns to Leonte Carroo, including one play where Carroo dodged a defender on the sideline and tiptoed his way into the endzone for a 34-yard scoring play. One of the most promising performances came from RU's young stable of running backs. Josh Hicks and Robert Martin combined for 197 yards rushing, with Hicks going over the century-mark. Martin had three scores for the Knights, including a 47-yarder in which he flashed scintillating speed to beat the Indiana defense. Their performances came at the expense of Justin Goodwin and Desmon Peoples, who combined for a paltry four carries total.
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It was a great day for the Rutgers offense. They accounted for 429 total yards, including a fine senior day performance by Gary Nova. Nova was 16 of 27 for 217 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks. He even looked pretty good on some QB scrambles when plays broke down. And with this win, fans can exhale knowing that the Scarlet Knights are going bowling for the ninth time in ten seasons. With any luck, the Knights will get an invite to Detroit (seriously) for the Quick Lane Bowl, or better. Just no Pinstripe. Nothing against the Yankee Stadium folks (although the turf still stinks), but Rutgers needs a change of scenery.