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Late defensive lapse highlights Rutgers loss

After a week on the road, the Rutgers football team came back home for its annual homecoming game and it looked for a second like it was ready to give the home fans something to cheer for. 

When it was all said and done though, the Scarlet Knights (1-7, 0-5) came away with a hard fought 18-15 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats (4-3, 4-1).

Here are three takeaways from the near upset:

Decisions, decisions

A week after standing out in a blowout loss to Maryland, freshman running back Isaih Pacheco was ready for his moment, taking the opportunity and running with it. Pacheco ran the ball 10 times for 76 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown run in the second quarter — helping his team to a 12-7 halftime lead and proving he’s legit and that last week was no joke. 

But, when Rutgers came back from the locker room, Pacheco must’ve stayed inside, as offensive coordinator John McNulty scrapped him from all but one play call in favor of sophomore running back Raheem Blackshear. Blackshear finished his day with 23 yards on six carries and the Knights only scored 3 more points for the rest of the game, losing their lead and the game in the process. It was definitely an interesting choice completely moving away from Pacheco who seemed like he was the only one who could muster up some offense for Rutgers. With graduate student running back Jonathan Hilliman out for the game, it’ll be interesting to see whose number gets called upon next week.

Late game letdown

For most of the game, the Knights defense came ready to play. After an early touchdown by Northwestern, it looked like it might be another one of those games for Rutgers. But, the defense stepped up and held the Wildcats — who put up 34 and 29 points in the two weeks prior — scoreless for the next 30 minutes and even added a safety, the team’s first safety since 2009.

But, midway through the fourth quarter with a 15-10 lead, when it mattered the most, the Knights gave up a touchdown and a subsequent two-point conversion to put Northwestern up by 3 on a drive in which the Wildcats went for it twice on fourth down. 

The 18 points allowed are the fewest Rutgers has given up since its season opening win against Texas State when it gave up just 7. Still, it wasn’t enough for the Knights to secure the win and end their losing streak.

Bombs away 

Lost in all of the commotion was sophomore punter Adam Korsak’s 79-yard punt, the longest in program history. Korsak had nine punts on the day for 414 yards — an average of 46 yards per punt.

After a few weeks out, sophomore kicker Justin Davidovicz also had a nice day, finishing 2-3 on field goal attempts. His lone miss from 47 yards out snapped his perfect streak of six straight field goals to start the season. 

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

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