PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Late fourth-quarter magic is getting to be the norm for Rutgers against Connecticut, especially when it comes to true freshman quarterbacks.
Chas Dodd threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Mark Harrison with 3:53 to play to tie it and connected on a 45-yard pass to Jeremy Deering to set up San San Te’s 34-yard field goal with 13 seconds to go to lead Rutgers to a 27-24 victory over the Huskies on Friday night.
“This is great to go out there and get some playing time and get a W,” Dodd said after completing 18 of 29 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns in his first start.
Dodd, who filled in for injured sophomore Tom Savage, never looked like a freshman in helping Rutgers (3-2, 1-0 Big East) snap a two-game losing streak. Dodd was poised and probably would have been close to 400 yards if his receivers hadn’t dropped three 20-to-30-yard passes.
“I was just anxious,” Dodd said. “I don’t think you’d call it butterflies. I wasn’t really nervous. I was just anxious to get out there and win.”
Te also had a 28-yard field goal and Mohamed Sanu scored on a 2-yard run for the Scarlet Knights, who have beaten Connecticut three straight with all being decided in the final minute or so.
The Scarlet Knights won 28-24 last year on Savage’s 81-yard TD pass to Tim Brown with 22 seconds to play. They posted a 12-10 win in 2008 when a Huskies’ field goal attempt hit off the upright with just over a minute to play.
“It’s kind of like we can’t catch a break,” said Connecticut tailback Jordan Todman, who ran for 123 yards, including a 66-yard TD run. “It was like that last year. We’re a good team. We work hard and make plays, it’s just like one thing can change everything and we’ve been falling on the other side.”
Cody Endres also threw a 22-yard TD pass to Kashif Moore, and Nick Williams scored on a 100-yard kickoff return for the Huskies.
“It stings a lot,” said Endres, who was 17 of 34 for 153 yards. “Rutgers is a good team. We were looking to come get our first Big East win and it didn’t happen so it’s very disappointing right now.”
Rutgers’ comeback started after Dodd led Rutgers from its own 5 to the Connecticut 13 midway through the fourth quarter. Faced with a third-and-2, Rutgers failed to make any yards on the next two downs and turned the ball over.
Rutgers’ defense, which was ranked fourth nationally giving up 12 points a game, forced Connecticut into a three and out and Rutgers took over on its own 48. Dodd went play action on first down and found Harrison all alone behind Blidi Wreh-Wilson for an easy score.
“He carried the offense on his back,” Rutgers safety and defensive captain Joe Lefeged said. “He made a lot of big plays throughout the whole game. He didn’t play like a freshman. It didn’t look like it to me. It seemed like he’s been out there for a while.”
The teams each got the ball twice in the final 3:53. Dodd got Rutgers into position for the win with his long pass to Deering down the left side, the same side that Harrison was all alone. Te hit the winner three plays later.
“It’s definitely pretty cool,” Te said. “All kickers dream about making game-winning kick. I’m just happy to do it for the team.”
Connecticut scored 17 points in the final 6:36 of the second quarter to take a 24-17 lead.
Limited to 13 yards on his first eight carries, Todman ignited the comeback by darting through a gapping hole in the middle of the line for the longest TD run of his career.
After a 33-yard punt return by Taylor Mack, Endres put Connecticut ahead with his 22-yard touchdown pass to Moore.
Dave Teggart added a 17-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
The opening quarter featured a 21-point spree in a 2:44 span. Dodd hit Deering on a 46-yard pass and run to put Rutgers ahead 7-0, but Williams tied it 16 seconds later with his 100-yard kickoff return, the second straight year the Huskies had a 100-yard yarder against the Scarlet Knights.
Lefeged returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to set up Sanu’s 2-yard TD run, and Te pushed the Rutgers lead to 17-7 with a 28-yard field goal 9:43 before halftime.