Sept. 3, 2011
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Site: Chestnut Hill, Mass. (Alumni Stadium)
Score: Northwestern 24, Boston College 17
Records: NU (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten), Boston College (0-1, 0-0 ACC)
Next NU Event: Saturday, Sept. 10 vs. Eastern Illinois 2:30 p.m. Evanston, Ill. Ryan Field
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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Back-to-back 80-yard touchdown drives on either side of halftime vaulted Northwestern to a 24-17 road victory over Boston College in its 2011 debut Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Mass. NU used a balanced attack with 197 passing yards and 227 yards on the ground on its way to winning its seventh-straight season opener.
Boston College wasted no time seizing momentum, bursting out of the gates with a 69-yard run by Andre Williams down to NU's 4-yard line on the first play from scrimmage. Northwestern's defense regrouped at the other end, however, stopping the Eagles on three straight plays to force BC's Nate Freese to boot a 19-yard field goal for the game's first points.
With senior Dan Persa sidelined for the game while still recovering from his ruptured Achilles tendon, true sophomore Kain Colter received the start under center. On NU's second possession, Colter completed passes of 17 and 12 yards to Jeremy Ebert and Charles Brown, respectively, to move the `Cats into field goal range.
Sophomore Jeff Budzien came on to convert his first career field goal attempt, putting it through the uprights from 43 yards to even the score.
A timely Jordan Mabin interception on Northwestern's 17-yard line interrupted Boston College's next threat, but BC linebacker Luke Kuechly returned the favor by intercepting a pass and returning it down to the 1-yard line. Following a penalty, BC's Williams scooted in for the score from six yards, giving the Eagles a 10-3 second quarter advantage.
With only 3:25 left before halftime, Northwestern found its groove offensively. Colter completed four straight passes while contributing to 35 NU rushing yards on the ground, including Colter's three-yard dart into the end zone to even things up at 10. That put the finishing touches on an 80-yard drive that lasted just 2:47.
It turned out to be a preview of NU's opening drive of the second half, on which the `Cats' racked up 73 yards on the ground highlighted a Mike Trumpy 34-yard dash off a misdirection. NU stayed with Trumpy to finish the drive as his 5-yard scamper gave Northwestern its first lead at 17-10.
After watching NU's offensive line dominate on the previous drive, the Wildcat defense got in on the action. Sophomore Tyler Scott had two stops, including an 8-yard sack of Rettig, as BC was forced to punt.
That remained the score into the fourth, where the Eagles came up scoreless on a second missed field goal attempt by Freese, this one from 40 yards. Northwestern made the most of the change of possession, as Colter struck for a 27-yard pass play down the sideline to true freshman Christian Jones. The `Cats made their way down to the 1 for first and goal, and Adonis Smith easily trotted in on the option to open a two-touchdown advantage for the `Cats.
Boston College responded with a 2-yard touchdown run by Williams on its next drive to cut its deficit to seven. The Eagles would get one last shot, driving to NU's 18-yard-line with 14 seconds remaining in the game, but a false start penalty and a Vince Browne stop of the quarterback on the final play sealed the win.
Northwestern's prolific ground attack compiled 227 yards, the first time since October of 2009 that Boston College allowed an opponent to go over 200 rushing yards.
Next week, Northwestern makes its 2011 debut at Ryan Field when it hosts FCS opponent Eastern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The game marks the second annual Evanston Day at Ryan Field and will be preceded on Thursday by a pep rally at Independence Park in Evanston (6-7 p.m.). Click here to purchase tickets for Saturday's game.
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