PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Freshman John O’Korn threw for career bests of 364 yards and five touchdowns and Houston forced a season-high six turnovers in routing error-prone Rutgers 49-14 on Saturday.
Sophomore receiver Deontay Greenberry also had a career day for Houston (6-1, 3-0 American Athletic Conference), catching eight passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns, with the yardage and TDs being personal bests.
O’Korn came into the game leading all true freshmen with 14 touchdown passes and he added to the total, hitting 24 of 30 attempts to help Houston rebound from its first loss of the season.
His scoring passes covered 10, 83 and 5 yards to Greenberry, 26 to DeMarcus Ayers and 2 yards to Aaron Johnson. Kenneth Farrow also scored on a 40-yard run and backup quarterback Greg Ward Jr. added a 2-yard TD run for the Cougars, gained 611 yards in total offense.
Justin Goodwin ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns for Rutgers (4-3, 1-2), which suffered its worst loss since a 56-5 setback to Louisville in 2005.
Houston came into the game leading the nation in takeaways (21) and turnover margin (14) and they only added to those numbers in intercepting five passes, including three against starter Gary Nova, and recovering a fumble.
O’Korn and the Cougars defense helped break the game open midway through the second quarter with two touchdowns in 52 seconds that turned a 14-all tie into a 28-14 halftime lead.
On the first play from scrimmage after Goodwin tied the game with 14 yards run, O’Korn hit Greenberry on a slant that turned into an 83-yard catch-and-run to daylight.
Safety Trevon Stewart forced and recovered a fumble at the 23 by fullback Michael Burton on Rutgers’ second play from scrimmage on the next series. After an incompletion, O’Korn found Ayers on a streak pattern down the left sideline for a 14-point lead.
Rutgers’ best chance to get back in the game came on the opening series of the second half. With Goodwin carrying the ball almost every down, Rutgers reached the Houston 22 after Nova hit tight end Tyler Kroft on a 31-yard pass play. After a time out, the Scarlet Knights got cute. They called a halfback option by backup Savon Huggins. He circled to his right and threw the ball right to Houston’s Adrian McDonald.
O’Korn then came on the field and led an 11-play, 84-yard scoring drive that ended with his toss to a wide-open Johnson for a touchdown.
Nova finished 7 of 15 for 138 yards before being relieved by Chas Dodd in the third quarter. Nova has thrown seven interceptions in the last two games, both losses.
Goodwin also scored on a 5-yard run early to give Rutgers its only lead 7-0.