Sept. 21, 2013
Box Score |
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Recalling its formula for success against California in the season-opener, No. 18/16 Northwestern returned two interceptions for touchdowns to post a 35-21 victory over Maine Saturday at Ryan Field, wrapping up a 4-0 nonconference schedule.
The Wildcats, who came into the game leading all of college football with eight interceptions this season, received its first pick-six courtesy of a 49-yard return by Damien Proby with less than a minute remaining before halftime. After the intermission, Proby forced Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski into a poor throw, resulting in an easy interception and 19-yard scoring return for sophomore defensive end Dean Lowry.
NU's four interception returns for scores in 2013 are the most in a single season in Wildcats history. Northwestern has now recorded at least one interception in eight consecutive games dating to last season.
Also sparking the defensive unit was junior linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo, who registered a career-high-tying 12 tackles in the game with 1.0 tackle for loss.
Offensively, senior tailback Mike Trumpy paced Northwestern with a season-high 94 yards and a touchdown on 17 rushing attempts, while junior wideout Tony Jones caught his third TD pass of the season and led the Wildcats in both receptions (six) and receiving yards (69) in the game.
After forcing a Maine punt to begin the game, Northwestern needed only 3:02 of possession time to put the first points of the game on the scoreboard. Kain Colter hit Tony Jones three times on the drive, including a crossing route that turned into a 27-yard catch-and-run for Jones' team-leading third touchdown grab of the season.
The Black Bears responded with a drive deep into Wildcats territory before setting up for a 32-yard field goal attempt, but senior defensive lineman Tyler Scott surged through the opposition to get a hand to Sean Decloux's kick. It was the first blocked field goal by an NU player since Jack DiNardo against Michigan on Oct. 8, 2011, and kept the score at 7-0 in Northwestern's favor.
With the scoreline still the same in the second quarter, Maine again advanced to the 21-yard line of Northwestern where it faced third-and-7 to keep its drive alive. But sophomore linebacker Drew Smith came unprotected off the edge to hit Marcus Washilewski's blind side and force an incomplete pass. Decloux came on to attempt a 38-yard field goal, but pushed his try wide to the left as Maine remained scoreless.
Northwestern came up empty on its next series but the defense continued to carry the day, stopping Maine on fourth-and-5 at the Northwestern 30-yard line to return possession to the 'Cats. But a Northwestern drive stalled as the Wildcats moved into the red zone when a Colter pass went off the hands of his intended receiver and was intercepted by Maine's Axel Ofori.
But just one minute later, the opportunistic Proby snared a deflected pass out of the air -- his first career interception at Northwestern -- and rumbled 49 yards to provide the Wildcats a 14-0 lead at halftime.
Northwestern received the opening kickoff of the second half but came away without points after a Jeff Budzien field goal try from 49 yards into the wind fell short of the uprights. But on Maine's first play of the ensuing series, Proby broke through the line and pressured Wasilewski into an ill-advised left-handed toss. The throw was easily caught and intercepted by Lowry, the second of interception of the sophomore's season, and the Wildcats found themselves ahead, 21-0.
Maine finally was able to finish one of its drives into NU territory with 3:02 remaining in the third quarter, an 11-yard pass from Wasilewski to tight end Justin Perillo.
But Northwestern responded in short order, moving across midfield with completions by Colter of 24 and 23 yards to Tony Jones and Christian Jones, respectively. Trumpy punched the ball into the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter from seven yards out to restore a 21-point Northwestern advantage. The teams then traded scores over a span of less than four minutes midway through the fourth, with Colter capping a 70-yard Wildcats scoring drive with a 5-yard touchdown rush, the 26th of his career.
The Black Bears would take advantage of a late NU turnover as Nigel Jones completed the scoring with a 10-yard scoring rush with 2:22 remaining to complete the scoring.
With nonconference action in the books, Northwestern can turn its attention to its Big Ten Conference schedule, which kicks off in primetime (7 p.m.) on Saturday, Oct. 5 vs. Ohio State. The game is a sellout at Ryan Field and will be televised to a national audience on ESPN or ABC.
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