Sept. 29, 2012
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Site: Evanston, Ill. (Ryan Field)
Score: Northwestern 44, Indiana 29
Records: NU (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten), Indiana (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Saturday, Oct. 6 at Penn State 11 a.m. CT University Park, Pa.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern compiled a school-record 704 yards of total offense as the Wildcats defeated Indiana 44-29 Saturday afternoon at Ryan Field in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
The yardage total topped the 674 yards amassed in a 51-48 victory over Wisconsin on Oct. 8, 2005.
Junior Kain Colter performed double duty at quarterback and wide receiver for the first time this season and put up gaudy numbers at both positions. Colter racked up 90 receiving yards in the first half alone and finished with nine receptions for 131 yards, while also rushing 14 times for 161 yards -- an 11.5 yards-per-carry average -- and found the end zone four times on the ground.
Junior running back Venric Mark also surpassed 100 yards on the ground for the third time in four games, setting career bests with 139 yards on 29 carries. It marks the first time since Nov. 22, 2003, against Illinois that the Wildcats have had two 100-yard rushers in the same game (Jason Wright and Noah Herron).
Trevor Siemian spent much of the game under center for NU and set career highs with 308 yards passing, completing 22 of 32 attempts in his first career start.
Place-kicker Jeff Budzien had yet another stellar game, remaining perfect on field goals this season (11-for-11) by converting 44, 34 and 29-yard attempts.
Both teams mirrored one another in the early going, each being forced to punt on their opening drives before tossing interceptions on their second possessions. For Northwestern, redshirt freshman Nick VanHoose recorded his first career pick on the perimeter, but the Hoosiers took it back on NU's ensuing series with an interception by Greg Heban. It was Northwestern's first interception thrown this season.
Indiana completed a long 39-yard pass to move into the red zone on its next drive, but came up empty when Mitch Ewald pushed his 20-yard field goal attempt wide right.
NU quickly took over on offense, marching 80 yards on six rushing plays to score the game's first touchdown. Mark darted 33 yards across midfield to put NU in position to score and Colter finished the job with his 8-yard rush to paydirt.
Trevor Siemian completed back-to-back 16-yard passes on Northwestern's next drive, first to Colter and then Christian Jones, to land the Wildcats on Indiana's 35-yard line. The Hoosiers defense clamped down after that, however, setting up a 44-yard field goal by Jeff Budzien, the second-longest kick of the junior's career.
Indiana was forced to punt following a third-down sack by NU's Collin Ellis on the ensuing series, giving Siemian and the NU offense the chance to go back to work. Siemian found Rashad Lawrence on the first play of the drive for 25 yards and, soon after, Mike Trumpy found room on a left-side counter to scamper 24 yards. Colter again capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown rush, putting NU ahead, 17-0.
The Wildcats would tack on another Budzien field goal, this time from 34 yards, to take a 20-0 lead into the halftime locker room.
The lead grew to 27 points after an efficient first drive in the second half, highlighted by an over-the-shoulder grab for 36 yards by sophomore wideout Tony Jones. Colter then broke through on the right side of the line for a 15-yard touchdown rush, his third of the game, with 11:52 to go in the third quarter.
Indiana found its stride at that point, getting on the board with a 20-yard rush by Stephen Houston and getting a fortuitous fumble recovery at the end of a long rush by Mark. Indiana punched it in with a 35-yard scoring strike from Nate Sudfeld to Kofi Hughes, narrowing its deficit to 27-14.
A stellar seven-play, 75-yard drive by the Wildcats put some distance back between NU and IU, with Mark continuing the theme of the day on offense by plunging in from one yard out to make it 34-14. The 20-point lead was short-lived, however, as Indiana's Tevin Coleman returned Northwestern's kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, keeping IU in shouting distance with 4:29 left in the third.
Siemian led the Wildcats back down the field to set up a 29-yard Budzien field goal, but Indiana scored on a short D'Angelo Roberts scoring run and converted a two-point conversion to pull within one score, 37-29, less than a minute into the final period.
Siemian marched NU right back down the field as the 'Cats reached the Indiana 29. However, he was intercepted and Indiana took over at its own 24 with just over nine minutes left.
Northwestern forced a three-and-out, though, and the Wildcats went 62 yards in eight plays capped by a 22-yard rush by Colter that put the hosts up by 15 with 5:07 remaining.
The Hoosiers got to the Northwestern 4 on the ensuing drive, but the Wildcats held on downs to seal the victory.
Trumpy also chipped in with 87 yards rushing against the Hoosiers.
Next week, Northwestern returns to the road for the first time since its Sept. 1 season-opener, continuing its Big Ten schedule against Penn State. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT with television coverage from Beaver Stadium provided by either ESPN or ESPN2.
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