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    Wildcats Top Jayhawks in Rain, 28-20

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Jason Wright scored all four Northwestern touchdowns.
    Jason Wright scored all four Northwestern touchdowns.

    Aug 30, 2003

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    LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Jason Wright rushed for a career-high-tying 196 yards and four touchdowns as Northwestern beat Kansas 28-20 on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams. The game was played in steady to heavy rain.

    Northwestern forced five Jayhawk turnovers, including four in the first half when the Wildcats jumped out in front 14-0.

    "It was a tough night for football," said Wildcats coach Randy Walker, "but I was real happy how we handled the elements. There were a couple bizarre plays that went against us in the second half, but we responded well."

    On the strength of 18- and 4-yard second-quarter scoring runs by Wright, Northwestern led 14-0 at halftime. In the second half, the Jayhawks opened with a 62-yard drive, but a 20-yard field goal attempt by Johnny Beck hit the left upright and NU took over on downs.

    Northwestern was marching toward a three-touchdown lead, but on a long fourth-and-one from the Kansas 17, Wright was dropped for a loss of six yards on an option play.

    Three plays later, Kansas quarterback Bill Whittemore scrambled around in the backfield, only to find Mark Simmons who ran to the right sideline for a 73-yard score.

    On the Wildcats' next possession, a Brett Basanez pass deflected off the hip of receiver Ashton Aikens, into the hands of KU's David McMillan, who raced 31 yards for the game-tying score.



    Wright countered for the 'Cats, scoring on a 1-yard scamper. With his 196 rushing yards, he moved from 15th place to 11th on NU's all-time rushing list. Wright now has 1,433 career yards.

    Leading 21-14, Northwestern punter Brian Huffman could not handle a low snap, which allowed Ronnie Amadi to block his kick. Darren Rus picked up the ball and returned it for a touchdown.

    But holder Curtis Ansel bobbled the snap on the point-after attempt, leaving the Jayhawks down 21-20 with 5:03 remaining.

    Northwestern recovered immediately, as Terrell Jordan scampered 40 yards to get the Wildcats close before another Kansas mistake -- this time an encroachment penalty on fourth down -- led to Wright's fourth score of the game, putting Northwestern ahead 28-20.

    The first serious rain in drought-stricken northeastern Kansas in weeks began early in the day and grew into an unrelenting downpour by the second quarter. It soaked the turf at Memorial Stadium and left deep puddles on the sidelines and track surrounding the field.

    Torri Stuckey's interception of Bill Whittemore, and Marvin Ward's of Brian Luke, led to both of Wright's first-half touchdowns.

    Whittemore, last year's Big 12 newcomer of the year, finished 12-of-28 for 240 yards. Luke, meanwhile, went 1-of-2 with the interception during a brief appearance late in the first half for a shaken-up Whittemore.

    Basanez was 23-of-36 for 219 yards with an interception for Northwestern. Clark Green led Kansas with 79 yards rushing on 17 carries.

    (The Associated Press contributed to this story.)