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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gary Nova, Rutgers produce Big Ten comeback for ages against Maryland

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — For a while, it looked like the apprentice would outclass the teacher.

But thanks to a 25-point comeback in the second half Saturday, Ralph Friedgen got the last laugh against Maryland, his alma mater and ex-employer, in Rutgers’ season-ending 41-38 victory at Byrd Stadium.

Trailing by as many as 35-10, Rutgers (7-5, 3-5) scored touchdowns on four straight drives and added a field goal on a fifth to secure an unlikely winning season.

A late fumble by Robert Martin threatened the outcome, but Rutgers' defense came up with a game-winning stop on fourth-and-short on the day it became the program's statistical worst of the 21st century (2,541 yards).

Staring down another lopsided loss in Big Ten play, Friedgen unloaded the playbook. 

Quarterback Gary Nova benefited most.

Nova finished 14-for-16 for 196 yards and two TDs in the second half, promising he’ll at the very least play in a fourth bowl game.

Ten conference teams became bowl eligible Saturday with, at minimum, eight allotted slots. A ninth could be in play if Ohio State secures a spot in the College Football Playoff.

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