Reserve quarterback Joe Gagliardi threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Bruce Campbell with 35 seconds remaining and added a two-point conversion pass to Curtis Stephens to rally Rutgers to a stunning 28-28 tie with third-ranked Florida yesterday in Gainesville, Fla.
Florida (1-0-1), which led, 28-7, late in the third period, extended the nation's longest unbeaten streak to 12 games. But Rutgers (0-0-1) parlayed Gagliardi's poise and critical Florida mistakes to take a victory away from the Gators before a shocked crowd of 71,708.
The Gators forged their 28-7 lead on three touchdown passes by Kerwin Bell, but the Scarlet Knights, 19-point underdogs, came right back. Gagliardi almost pulled out a victory when the Knights recovered an onsides kick at the Florida 31, but Stephens fumbled at the 26 and Florida linebacker Scott Armstrong recovered.
With Rutgers trailing, 28-14, Gagliardi came on early in the fourth quarter and led a 65-yard drive capped by Albert Smith's second one-yard touchdown run of the game. Gagliardi then guided the Scarlet Knights 86 yards in 14 plays for a touchdown and tying conversion.
A 16-yard pass to Campbell on third and 11 at the 32 kept the drive alive. On the next play, Gagliardi -- who had thrown just one previous pass in his Rutgers career before yesterday -- found Campbell for the touchdown to make it 28-26. Stephens then caught a tipped pass for the two-point conversion.