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Rutgers football falls to Northwestern, extends losing streak

Despite getting a passing touchdown from senior quarterback Noah Vedral, the Rutgers football team lost its fourth straight game, falling to Northwestern in Evanston. – Photo by Emma Garibian

The Rutgers football team was defeated for a fourth consecutive game in a 21-7 loss to Northwestern yesterday. The losing streak comes after the Scarlet Knights (3-4, 0-4) began the season undefeated in three non-conference games.

The Rutgers offense struggled for much of the day with its only successful drive coming in the second quarter. The drive was the longest of the season, totaling 97 yards and ending in an 18-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Noah Vedral to senior wide receiver Bo Melton to tie the game at 7 points.

For the rest of the game, the Knights struggled to put points on the board. For the second straight week, Rutgers failed to score in the second half in a game where the Knights were just a touchdown behind the Wildcats (3-3, 0-0) up until midway through the fourth quarter.

Penalties were an issue for Rutgers as well. The team committed a season-high 11 penalties, amounting to 90 yards of lost field position. 

In a particular sequence late in the third quarter, a delay-of-game penalty on fourth down and three set the Knights back five yards, forcing them to attempt a field goal instead of the team’s original intention to go for the first down. The field goal was ultimately missed.

“Totally unacceptable,” said head football coach Greg Schiano when asked about the series of events after the game. “We were doing really well at the beginning of the year, we were number one in the country in penalties … Today we fell off a cliff.”

Vedral finished the game with 152 passing yards and one touchdown while freshman running back Kyle Monangai led in the rushing department with 31 total yards. Meanwhile, Bo Melton finished with one touchdown and 101 receiving yards, marking his 11th career receiving touchdown and fifth career 100-yard receiving game.

On special teams, senior punter Adam Korsak became the Knights’ all-time leader in punting yards. Now with 10,433 career yards, he has passed Mike Barr, who accumulated 10,096 yards in his career.

Defensively, senior linebackers Olakunle Fatukasi and Tyshon Fogg led the team in tackles. Fatukasi finished with 11 total tackles and a tackle-for-loss while Fogg compiled 10 tackles and his own tackle-for-loss. 

Remaining on defense, shortly before the game, Rutgers announced that freshman defensive backs Max Melton and Chris Long would be available to play after serving a nearly month-long suspension stemming from a Sept. 20 incident on Livingston campus. Max Melton left the game early with an injury.

“Upon gathering all the available information, we believed that now was the appropriate time for their return,” Schiano said in a statement.

For Northwestern, Ryan Hilinski finished his day with 267 passing yards and two touchdowns in the win. Accompanying Hilinksi was the rushing attack of Andrew Clair and Evan Hull, who combined for 116 rushing yards and one touchdown on the day. 

In the receiving department, Stephon Robinson, Jr. led the game with 115 yards while Malik Washington and Marshall Lang caught the two touchdown passes.

The Knights will now enter their bye week and will not play next weekend. The next time Rutgers will take the field will be Oct. 30 when the program travels to take on Illinois. The time and television network for the game has yet to be determined.

“It’s certainly going to stink having a loss in your mouth for two weeks,” Schiano said. “But it’s an opportunity for us to assess everything and really drill down on where we need to and how we need to improve.”

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

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