Fackler scores on interception; Kent St forces 6 turnovers in 35-23 upset of No. 18 Rutgers
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Defensive end Mark Fackler returned his second interception 25 yards for a touchdown, and Kent State forced five other turnovers in stunning No. 18 Rutgers 35-23 Saturday for its biggest win since its first game in 1920.
The Golden Flashes (7-1) had been 0-22 against ranked teams, but they ended the best start for Rutgers (7-1) since the Scarlet Knights were 9-0 in 2006.
Kent State intercepted Gary Nova six times and recovered a fumble to give the Mid-American Conference its second straight win over an undefeated Big East team. Toledo knocked off Cincinnati last week.
Spencer Keith threw touchdown passes of 1 yard to Zack Hitchens and 15 yards to Josh Boyle, the latter giving the Golden Flashes a 35-17 lead with 11:30 to play. Dri Archer, the nation's leader in touchdowns coming into this week, scored on a 7-yard run, and Trayion Durham tallied from 3-yards out.
Nova, the Big East's top offensive player last week, threw touchdowns of 19 yards to Tim Wright and 24 to Brandon Coleman. Jawan Jamison scored on a 2-yard run to cut Rutgers' deficit to 12 with 10:35 to play, but the Scarlet Knights never got closer.
At the final gun, Kent State players bumped chests, high-fived, and ran to the corner of the stadium to share the celebration with their few followers from Ohio who came to New Jersey.
Nova was intercepted four times in the first half, resulting in 14 points and a 21-3 Kent State lead.
The biggest play was made by Fackler early in the second quarter with the Golden Flashes leading 7-3.
Rutgers had just gotten the ball back when Lorenzo Waters blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt by Freddy Cortez, giving the Scarlet Knights the ball at its 29.
On first down, Nova went to throw a quick flanker screen. His toss down the line of scrimmage was intercepted with one hand by Fackler, who never broke stride and ran into the end zone to make it 14-3.
That seemed to change the tone of the game, and Rutgers never recovered. It also demoralized the homecoming crowd of 49,345 at High Point Stadium.
Nova moved Rutgers from its 29 to the Kent State 35 on the ensuing series. However, linebacker Luke Batton pressured him on second-and-10. Nova threw an ill-advised pass toward the goal line that safety Leon Green intercepted and returned 48 yards to the Scarlet Knights 45.
Seven plays later, Archer scored on a 7-yard run for a 21-3 Kent State lead.
The Golden Flashes allowed Rutgers to get back in the game in the final 59 seconds with a five-play, 83-yard drive that started with a 45-yard run by Jamison and ended with a 19-yard TD pass to Wright with :04 left in the half.
Rutgers had taken a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter when Nick Borgese, who again was filling in for injured Kyle Federico, kicked a career-long, 42-yard field goal.
The Golden Flashes came right back and took the lead with a seven-play, 67-yard march that was capped by a 1-yard pass from Keith to Hitchens, a defensive end playing on offense in the goal line formation.