Sept. 20, 2008
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern is off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 1962 after blocking two field goals, recovering two fumbles, picking off two passes and holding pesky Ohio to a single-game school-record four yards rushing in a 16-8 win Saturday at Ryan Field.
The Wildcats (4-0) sputtered on offense in the second half, but their defense and special teams did the job on the Bobcats (0-4) -- who put a scare into Ohio State two weeks ago.
Amado Villarreal booted three field goals and Omar Conteh scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to give the Wildcats a 16-0 lead at halftime.
It turned out to be enough because Northwestern's defensive effort was outstanding. The Bobcats had 14 plays (for 62 yards) of negative yardage.
Ohio's Barrett Way was without usual long snapper Kyle Robbins and it showed. He missed a 42-yard field goal in the first quarter and had attempts blocked in the third and fourth quarters. The two blocks were Northwestern's first in four years.
Late in the second quarter, redshirt freshman defensive end Vince Browne sacked Jackson for a nine-yard loss on 4th and 5, giving the Wildcats the ball back near midfield with just under 2 minutes left. On third-and-one, Tyrell Sutton broke free for a 31-yard gain to the 11, and Conteh scored with 13 seconds left to make it 16-0.
Sutton left with a leg injury after the long carry and didn't return. Sutton ran for 76 yards on nine carries and caught three passes for 27 yards, going over 1,000 yards receiving in his career. The senior is the second in school to have more than 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a career, joining Ricky Edwards from 1979-84.
Late in the third quarter, Ohio scored on Jackson's 12-yard pass to Andrew Mooney, followed by a pass to LaVon Brazill for a 2-point conversion to make it 16-8.
Browne finished the game with four TFL's, which included three of NU's five pass sacks. The Wildcats, one of the nation's top pass-sacking units in 2008, had six sacks last week against Southern Illinois. He also totaled seven tackles, blocked one of NU's two field goals and forced a fumble.
Quarterback C.J. Bachér went 18-for-35 for 133 yards, and ran for another 37. Conteh ran for 35 yards in relief of Sutton, who missed time last year with an ankle injury.
Jackson was 27-for-42 for 228 yards and two interceptions, and ran for minus-28 yards, which included the five sacks. Harden led Ohio with 19 yards rushing.
Despite their 0-4 mark, the Bobcats have been competitive in every game, leading Ohio State in the second half and losing close games to Central Michigan and Wyoming.
Northwestern begins Big Ten play next week at Iowa (3-1). Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)