Oct. 5, 2013
Box Score |
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 16/15 Northwestern battled No. 4/3 Ohio State in NU's nationally televised Big Ten-opener at a sold-out Ryan Field Saturday evening, with the Buckeyes scoring the final 13 points of the game to pull out a 40-30 victory.
Senior wideout Rashad Lawrence had a career-day catching the ball, racking up 149 yards on eight receptions, including a key 67-yard catch-and-run that set up a go-ahead fourth-quarter score for the Wildcats.
Both Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian again had success under center for Northwestern, combining to complete a stellar 25-of-31 passes (80.6 percent) for 343 yards through the air -- the second-most allowed this season by an Ohio State defense that came into the day averaging 219.4 passing yards allowed per game. Colter was a perfect 12-for-12 for 98 yards and also saw his first time at receiver this season, scoring one rushing and one receiving TD against the Buckeyes.
Senior place-kicker Jeff Budzien finished 3-of-3 on field goal attempts in the game to improve to 9-of-11 on the year.
Ohio State found success in the passing game on the first drive of the ballgame before Northwestern came up with a defensive stand inside the 15-yard line, forcing a 27-yard Buckeyes field goal for the first points on the night.
Northwestern secured one first down on its first series before having to punt, and Ohio State took over at its own 20-yard line. On a first down play, senior and Ohio native Tyler Scott corralled Braxton Miller and forced a fumble in the process, which he also recovered to give the Wildcats excellent field position.
Trevor Siemian took over under center and, after picking up one first down, fired a touchdown pass to Colter from nine yards out to put the Wildcats in front, 7-3. It was Colter's first reception since the 2012 matchup with Nebraska and his first touchdown grab since his sophomore campaign in 2011.
NU forced the first Buckeyes punt of the game on the next series, but OSU's Cameron Johnston pinned the Wildcats on their own 1-yard line. After gaining some breathing room on offense, Northwestern's punt was blocked and recovered by Ohio State's Bradley Roby for a touchdown. NU had not had a punt attempt blocked since a 2008 trip to Michigan.
The Wildcats responded with a 10-play scoring drive, however, gaining 25 yards on a Siemian strike to Christian Jones and a combined 14 on back-to-back Venric Mark rushes. Colter finished off the series with a 2-yard plunge into the end zone for his fourth rushing score of the season and a 14-10 Northwestern lead.
The teams traded field goals over the next two possessions to give NU a 17-13 advantage, and the Wildcats reclaimed the ball when senior Mike Jensen sniffed out an Ohio State fake punt attempt on the Buckeyes' side of midfield. Northwestern turned that big play into three points on Jeff Budzien's second field goal of the game, this one from 29 yards out to increase Northwestern's lead to 20-13.
With OSU looking to put points on the board late in the half, redshirt freshman defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo came off the edge to affect Miller's downfield pass attempt, resulting in a Chi Chi Ariguzo interception to send Northwestern into the locker room up by seven points.
The Wildcats took advantage of their first possession of the second half by quickly moving into Buckeye territory on a series aided by a 22-yard completion to Jensen. Siemian was sacked on third down for a loss of eight yards, however, to set up a 32-yard field goal by Budzien.
Ohio State's next drive took them down to the 7-yard line of Northwestern, but the Wildcats defense came up big once again as Damien Proby caused Miller's second fumble of the evening, a loose ball that was recovered by Dean Lowry. Northwestern's Brandon Williams was called upon to punt once again, and the Buckeyes used six plays to cover a short field and pull within a field goal on a 4-yard rush by Carlos Hyde.
The defenses ruled the day going into the fourth quarter and again made their presence known when Ohio State's Doran Grant stepped in front of a Siemian offering for an interception that gave the visitors the ball at the 16-yard line of NU. Hyde managed to reach the ball across the goalline on a 2-yard rush -- a play that was originally ruled down at the 1-yard line -- to put Ohio State in front 27-23.
With the pressure mounting, Northwestern took the field and received a huge 67-yard pitch-and-catch from Siemian to Lawrence. After the Wildcats had a 4-yard TD run taken off the board on a holding call, Siemian scrambled on third-down and found Cameron Dickerson all alone in the end zone to put Northwestern in front with 9:10 remaining.
However, the Buckeyes answered right back, marching 81 yards in eight plays capped by a seven-yard run by Hyde that gave the guests the lead back, 34-30, with 5:22 remaining.
On the ensuing drive, the Wildcats reached the Ohio State 34-yard line and faced a 4th-and-1 when Colter was unable to handle the snap from under center and was ruled to have come up just shy of the first-down marker.
The Buckeyes posted one more score on the final play of regulation as Joey Bosa recovered a Northwestern lateral in the end zone to account for the final margin.
After missing the previous three games due to injury, Mark returned to the lineup and led the Wildcats with 60 yards on 17 carries. Siemian completed 13 of 18 passes for 245 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Proby (12) and fellow linebacker Collin Ellis (10) each posted double-digit tackle totals in the game.
Northwestern's Big Ten season enters week two next Saturday, with NU venturing to Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff in the second of back-to-back cross-divisional matchups.
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