PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Spencer Keith threw for 121 yards and two touchdowns, and Trayion Durham rushed for 131 yards and a score as Kent State handed No. 15 Rutgers its first setback, 35-23, on Saturday.
Kent State (7-1) became the latest Mid-American Conference team to post a major upset, spoiling Rutgers' dreams of an unbeaten season after scoring 21 points off seven turnovers. Rutgers (7-1) joined Iowa, Connecticut, Penn State, South Florida and Cincinnati as the latest victim as Kent State recorded the MAC's 15th win over a FBS non-conference foe this season.
Mark Fackler had a hand in a pair of turnovers, snagging two of Gary Nova's school-record six interceptions, including one that Fackler returned 25 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
Nova finished with 313 yards and two touchdowns on 25-for-46 passing, but he surpassed his season interception tally (three) midway through the second quarter.
Dri Archer, who entered as the nation's leader in all-purpose yardage with 212.9 per game, combined for 137 yards and scored once as Kent State won for the 11th time in its last 13 games dating back to Oct. 29, 2011.
After the teams traded turnovers on their first possessions, Rutgers scored first as Nick Borgese drilled a career-long 42-yard field goal six minutes into the game.
Kent State responded on the ensuing series, marching 67 yards in seven plays and reaching the end zone when Keith hit defensive end-turned-fullback Zack Hitchens from the 1-yard line off a play-action bootleg.
The Golden Flashes added to their lead two minutes into the second quarter as Fackler snagged his second interception, picking off a screen pass and racing 25 yards for a score.
After Luke Batton grabbed Nova's third interception inside the 10-yard line, Archer capped a seven-play, 45-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run as the Golden Flashes jumped ahead 21-3 with 5:54 to play in the half.
Nova threw his fourth interception three minutes later, but Kent State failed to capitalize and Rutgers' sophomore quarterback rebounded to lead the Scarlet Knights to a score late in the half. Four plays after Jamison gave Rutgers some life with a 45-yard run, Nova avoided a sack, rolled right and hit Tim Wright for a 19-yard touchdown with four seconds left.
But any possible momentum the Scarlet Knights gained was squashed seven minutes into the third quarter, when Trayion Durham rushed in from 3 yards to help give the Golden Flashes a 28-10 advantage.
Kent State's second 18-point advantage didn't last long, as Rutgers answered with a nine-play, 72-yard drive capped by Nova's 24-yard scoring strike to Brandon Coleman.
After the Golden Flashes extended their lead to 35-17 behind Keith's 15-yard scoring strike to Josh Boyle with 11:30 to play, the Scarlet Knights pulled within 12 points a minute later thanks to Jawan Jamison's 2-yard touchdown run.
Rutgers couldn't get any closer over the final 10 minutes, as Luke Wollet recorded Nova's sixth interception with four minutes to play and Kent State managed to run out the clock
NOTES: Kent State coach Darrell Hazell, a New Jersey native who grew up approximately 45 minutes from Rutgers, was a Scarlet Knights assistant on former coach Greg Schiano's first staff from 2001 through '03. ... The meeting was the first between Rutgers and Kent State since 2004, with Rutgers holding a 2-0 series lead before Saturday's game. ... Kyle Flood dropped the first game of his tenure after he had become the first Scarlet Knights rookie coach to begin his career 7-0. ... Rutgers saw its record against MAC foes drop to 13-5-1.