The Rutgers football team was defeated by Wake Forest 38-10 in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl on Friday afternoon. The loss drops the Scarlet Knights’ (5-8, 2-7) bowl game record to 6-5 all-time with their last loss coming in the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl.
Due to the late timing of Rutgers' bowl bid, a number of key players from this season’s team had already signed with agents and declared for the 2022 NFL Draft, leaving the Knights down several starters.
Despite being down key players and playing on only nine days notice, Rutgers competed with the No. 20 Demon Deacons (11-3, 7-1) for much of the first half. After Wake Forest opened the game with a touchdown, the Knights responded right back with a 12 play, 75-yard drive to tie the game.
The drive was capped off by a 12-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Aaron Young.
After the dual touchdowns, the Demon Deacons would drive back down the field for another touchdown while adding a field goal in their next possession. Rutgers scored a field goal of its own in that time to give it a 17-10 deficit with a few minutes left in the first half.
On the Knights’ final possession of the first half, senior quarterback Noah Vedral threw an interception inside Wake Forest territory, which gave the Demon Deacons the chance to drive back down the field and score points before the half.
At the conclusion of the first half, Rutgers trailed Wake Forest 20-10.
The second half was dominated by the Demon Deacons, as they held the Knights off the scoreboard while expanding on their 10-point halftime lead. Wake Forest scored on its final three drives of the game to seal the victory.
Vedral finished his afternoon as Rutgers’ leading passer, but three other Knights accumulated passing yards in the loss. Vedral’s 87 yards were followed by 30 yards from freshman quarterback Gavin Wimsatt, a 27-yard completion from sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Washington and 21 total yards from junior quarterback Johnny Langan.
Wimsatt also finished as the team’s lead rusher, amassing 38 yards on four attempts. Young, the recipient of the program’s only touchdown, carried the ball seven times for 33 yards.
Langan ended the game as the leading receiver, thanks in large part to a 27-yard reception in the second quarter from Washington. Langan’s play earned him one of the two Gator Bowl MVP awards.
Defensively, freshman defensive back Max Melton and sophomore linebacker Mohamed Toure led the team with six tackles. Toure also added 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles-for-loss in the defeat. Other Rutgers players to collect sacks include senior linebacker Drew Singleton and freshman defensive back Desmond Igbinosun.
The Knights’ bowl defeat officially ends their season. The end of the 2021 season also leaves head football coach Greg Schiano just three wins away from becoming the winningest coach in Rutgers history. Schiano has 76 wins and is only behind Frank Burns.
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