Sep 7, 2013
Box Score |
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 19/20 Northwestern raced to a 34-7 halftime lead and cruised to a 48-27 victory over Syracuse Saturday evening at Ryan Field. The two-headed quarterback monster of Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian was in full force; both signal-callers completed 11-of-12 passes and were responsible for two TDs apiece in the first half alone, and finished the game with a combined 375 yards on 30-of-37 passing.
Siemian completed 15 of 19 passes for 259 yards with three touchdowns in the contest while Colter connected on 15 of 18 attempts for 116 yards and a score while also rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Junior wide receiver Tony Jones enjoyed a career day for the 'Cats, setting personal bests with nine catches for 185 yards (20.6 average), the most receiving yards by a Wildcat since Jeremy Ebert went for 208 against Rice on Nov. 12, 2011.
The Wildcats hosted a crowd of 38,033 at Ryan Field, the highest-attended Northwestern home-opener since 40,103 took in a 2001 tilt against Michigan State.
The 34 first-half points were the most by a Northwestern squad since scoring 38 against Indiana on Oct. 29, 2011.
Northwestern wasted no time giving the home crowd something to cheer about, with Colter completing four straight passes on the 'Cats' opening drive. Colter hit Christian Jones and then Tony Jones for big gains, and two plays later served a screen pass to Treyvon Green for an easy 8-yard touchdown only 51 seconds into the contest.
The Wildcats defense kept the opposition in check in the opening quarter, thanks in part to first-period TFLs by linemen Tyler Scott and Deonte Gibson as well as linebacker Drew Smith. Colter led a second scoring drive, this time an 11-play series that ended with senior Jeff Budzien converting a 32-yard field goal, his fourth of the young season.
After that it was Siemian's turn to orchestrate a Wildcats scoring drive, with the junior coming on late in the first quarter and moving NU down the field with a perfect 32-yard pass down the sideline to Tony Jones. Shortly after, Siemian went to the air again and found a wide-open Dan Vitale for a 20-yard score, the third receiving touchdown of the true sophomore's career.
With another Syracuse drive stalling out, QB Drew Allen aired out an attempt down the sideline directed at Ashton Broyld, but sophomore safety Traveon Henry came across the field to make an outstanding catch and land a foot in bounds for his first career interception. Northwestern took over just shy of midfield where Siemian hit Tony Jones for a 43-yard completion down the seam, eventually setting up a second Budzien field goal, this one from 21 yards to make it 20-0 Northwestern.
Syracuse made its first trip into Northwestern territory with under seven minutes remaining in the opening half, moving to the 3-yard line with a 27-yard completion by Allen to Broyld. RB Jerome Smith finished the drive with a dive into the end zone to get the visitors on the board at the 6:29 mark of the second quarter.
Colter returned to lead NU's next series and shuffled the Wildcats across midfield with a 33-yard QB keeper, eluding a heavy Syracuse blitz and breaking down the left sideline. It was more of the same six plays later as Colter made several defenders miss on a rush to the goal line, where Colter broke the plane for the score despite being stood up by an SU defender.
An interception by Chi Chi Ariguzo on Syracuse's ensuing drive gave NU the ball back with 51 seconds left before halftime, plenty of time for Siemian to come on and lead yet another Wildcats scoring drive. Siemian found wideout Rashad Lawrence on back-to-back plays for a total of 39 yards, and with two seconds remaining hit Christian Jones in the end zone to put Northwestern comfortably in front, 34-7, at halftime.
Syracuse showed signs of life coming out of the locker room when it assembled a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended with Allen finding Kendall Moore for a 16-yard touchdown strike only two and a half minutes into the half. The Orange hit the upright on the ensuing extra point attempt, leaving the score at 34-13.
That remained the count into the fourth quarter, when two plays after the break Siemian went to his favorite target, Tony Jones, for an easy 47-yard scoring strike, increasing the Northwestern advantage to 41-13.
Syracuse tacked on a fourth-quarter touchdown courtesy of a 9-yard rush by Prince-Tyson Gulley before Green broke through the middle to paydirt from 28 yards out for NU with 5:18 remaining. The Orange would get one final score on a 15-yard rush by backup quarterback Terrel Hunt with 2:49 to go.
Northwestern's defense forced the Orange into four interceptions, adding to the three the Wildcats corralled in their season-opening win at Cal. Senior Damien Proby finished as NU's high tackler for the evening, finishing with nine.
With the win, Northwestern seized a 6-5 lead in the all-time series against Syracuse.
The Wildcats continue their homestand next Saturday when they welcome MAC foe Western Michigan to Ryan Field. Gametime is set for 8 p.m. CT. For tickets, call the Northwestern Athletics Ticket Office at 888-GO-PURPLE.
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