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Penalties continue to plague Rutgers

 – Photo by Curstine Guevarra

For fans of the Rutgers football team, it’s another Monday asking where it all went wrong. Despite a career-high 304 passing yards from sophomore quarterback Artur Sitkowski, the Scarlet Knights (1-2, 0-1) lost 30-16 to Boston College at SHI Stadium.

How did Rutgers manage to lose a game with more than 300 passing yards? The run game was non-existent, with the Knights getting only 76 yards on the ground. The run defense was even less effective: The Eagles' (3-1, 1-0) AJ Dillon practically bulldozed his way into the second level on every carry, racking up 150 yards and 2 touchdowns.

But the statistic that sticks out the most in the box score would have to be the penalty yardage. While Rutgers picked up a total of 380 yards, it negated much of that production by giving up 100 yards on 11 penalties.

Costly penalties burned the Knights from the beginning. On first and 10 with the ball on Boston College's 33, sophomore running back Isaih Pacheco broke free for a 15-yard gain — only to be called back when junior offensive lineman Nick Krimin was flagged for holding. The drive ended with junior kicker Justin Davidovicz field goal.

“Penalties hurt,” said head coach Chris Ash after the game. “We had 11 penalties (and) they just killed drives.”

One of those drive-killers came on the opening drive of the third quarter. With Rutgers trailing by four on third and short, Sitkowski found junior running back Raheem Blackshear for a 12-yard reception — only to be called back for a 15-yard offensive pass interference call on sophomore wide receiver Daevon Robinson. The Knights went three and out, and the Eagles would respond with a touchdown drive that extended their lead to 11.

Undisciplined play has been a repeated point of failure for Rutgers in the past. In its previous game against Iowa, fifth-year senior defensive back Damon Hayes had third-down pass interference calls on two straight drives, keeping the the Knights defense on the field. Rutgers lost that game 30-0.

“At the end of the day we didn't play well enough to win a game,” Ash said. “That's my fault. It is all on me. I have to do a better job of getting the team ready.”

The road ahead for the Knights doesn’t get any easier. With a 1-3 record, they now look forward to a road trip to Ann Arbor to take on No. 20 Michigan. Rutgers lost 42-7 in their last matchup against the Wolverines (2-1, 0-1), and the lack of discipline won’t do them any favors when they face a rematch in enemy territory. 

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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