Sept 13, 2003
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- For this season's first seven quarters, Northwestern looked like it had buried last year's rough campaign. But in the last five quarters -- the final frame of the Air Force contest and all four quarters against Miami University, Saturday's opponent -- last year's difficulties seemed to resurface.
The Wildcats (1-2) had no answer for Miami's Heisman Trophy candidate, Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns as the RedHawks beat the Wildcats 44-14 Saturday afternoon at Ryan Field. Receiver Martin Nance caught a pair of touchdown passes as Miami (1-1), which was coming off an open date, gave coach Terry Hoeppner his second win in a row over old boss Randy Walker
. Walker coached Miami for nine seasons before leaving for Northwestern in 1998, handing over the program to his longtime assistant and close friend.
The RedHawks held Northwestern to 41 yards rushing on 27 carries and outgained the Wildcats 515 to 314 yards.
"Miami played a great football game and deserved to win," said Walker. "But the team that showed up for the first seven quarters this season wasn't out there today and we've got to get back to where we were. We invested too greatly in the off-season to let this thing slip away. We were missing the passion and emotion that you need to win in Division I football."
Northwestern's offense, which could not get its running game going, sputtered while Roethlisberger was making up for a disappointing performance in his season-opening outing at Iowa two weeks ago. The Wildcats managed just four rushing yards through the first three quarters.
"We pride ourselves on being big, strong men, pushing people around, and we didn't do it and that's why we lost," said junior center Matt Ulrich. "We need to play big, strong and mean every game."
Roethlisberger, playing behind a veteran offensive line, was not sacked and was rarely pressured. He finished 28-of-37 before being taken out with 12:34 to go and Miami up by 30.
Roethlisberger's second TD pass to Nance gave the RedHawks a 37-7 lead and was one of his best of the afternoon. He was nearly sacked, but managed to steady himself by planting his left hand on the ground before throwing a strike to Nance -- who cut back across the field for a 61-yard touchdown catch.
Nance had four catches for 126 yards, and Michael Larkin had seven receptions for 89 yards and one score.
Miami's Cal Murray had a 22-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and backup running back Adam Ciborowski's TD run made it 44-7.
Terrell Jordan added a late touchdown run for the Wildcats.
Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez was knocked out of the game twice in the first half -- once on a late hit from Terna Nande and a few plays later when Phil Smith sacked him from behind. A bloodied Basanez returned in the second half, but was replaced by freshman Alexander Webb.
Basanez, who suffered a shoulder injury, finished 12-of-20 for 126 yards, and Webb was 10-of-24 for 147 yards and an interception.
Roethlisberger had touchdown passes to Nance and Larkin in the first half, and Mike Smith bounced off a Northwestern defender and ran it in for a 15-yard score to give Miami a 23-7 halftime lead.
Jason Wright had a 5-yard touchdown run in the first half. Wright came into the game as the nation's sixth-leading rusher, but a sore hamstring slowed the senior's play. Wright finished with 20 yards on 11 carries -- his lowest single-game output since becoming a starter last year.
(The Associated Press provided some information for this story.)