WAKE FOREST 38 – RUTGERS 10
When he spoke with reporters in the lead-up to the 77th Annual Gator Bowl, Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano knew that his team would be up against it.
With only eight days to prepare after learning of their bowl invite due to COVID-19 outbreak with Texas A&M, the Scarlet Knights put their best foot forward all week to prepare for one of the most lethal offenses in the country, the 17th ranked Demon Deacons of Wake Forest.
For a whole half of football, Rutgers was right there, hanging tough with Wake. The Scarlet Knights trailed by only 10 points, 20-10 at the half, and had done a nice job slowing down the Demon Deacons and their star quarterback Sam Hartman, albeit for only a few drives to keep things close.
At the end of the day, Hartman rallied his Wake Forest offense in the second half, and Rutgers couldn’t avoid the turnover bug in key spots as the Demon Deacons rolled up 24 unanswered points in a 38-10 win.
Wake Forest scored first on the opening drive of the game, a nine-play, 84-yard drive that was helped out by three off-sides penalties by the Scarlet Knights that kept the chains moving for Wake Forest.
The third off-sides penalty gave Wake Forest a new set of downs at the Rutgers’ 22-yard line, which they quickly cashed in on when Hartman hit tight end Brandon Chapman in the flat for the opening score.
Give Rutgers credit; they answered quickly.
A combination of timely passing by quarterback Noah Vedral, as well as the running of Johnny Langan propelled the Scarlet Knights. Verdral was 3-of-5 on the drive for 48-yards, including a 21-yard completion to Jovani Haskins that moved to ball deep into Wake Forest territory.
Aaron Young capped off the drive with a 12-yard scamper into the end zone to tie the game at 7.
Aaron Young runs it in for the touchdown ‼️— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) December 31, 2021
The 12 play, 75-yard drive ties the game at 7 with 5:11 remaining in the first quarter. @aaronyoung04 | #CHOP pic.twitter.com/JHxIsIqmTB
After Wake Forest responded with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Hartman to A.T. Perry, Rutgers, again looked poised to tie the game, before Vedral was sacked on a critical third and goal at the Wake Forest nine-yard line, forcing Schiano to settle for a field goal to cut the deficit to 14-10.
That was as close as Rutgers would get the rest of the day.
Rutgers had its chances however.
Down 17-10, the Scarlet Knights moved all the way to the Wake Forest seven, before Vedral was picked off by Gavin Holmes at the two-yard line with 1:42 to go in the first half. Instead of going into the half tied at 17, Wake Forest turned the Rutgers gaff into three points to take a 10-point lead into the half.
At the start of the second half, back-up quarterback Gavin Wimsatt was picked off on his first pass for Rutgers. RU would never get closer.
Hartman finished 23-of-39 for 304 yards and three touchdown passes for Wake Forest.
The Scarlet Knights had five different players throw a pass Friday, as Schiano and his coaching staff tried to keep the Demon Deacons off-balance.
It wasn’t the finish to the season that Rutgers wanted, but considering the circumstances, Rutgers put forth a heck of effort against one of the top teams in the country.
Now the page officially turns to 2022 for RU. Nine seniors will be moving on, as Schiano enters his third year in re-shaping the program. Rutgers opens the 2022 season against an old Big East rival, at Boston College next September.