Nov. 5, 2011
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Site: Lincoln, Neb. (Memorial Stadium)
Score: Northwestern 28, No. 9/9 Nebraska 25
Records: NU (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten), Nebraska (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Saturday, Nov. 12 vs. Rice 11 a.m. CT BTN
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Northwestern's first Big Ten Conference trip to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln was a memorable one as the Wildcats jumped out to an early lead Saturday and dominated the trenches en route to a 28-25 win over No. 9 (No. 10 BCS) Nebraska.
The win was Northwestern's first over a top-10 team since defeating then-No. 8 Iowa, 17-10, in Iowa City on Nov. 7, 2009. The Wildcats now are 8-4 in the month of November dating to 2008.
The win tied the current senior class for the most wins of any five-year class with 34, matching the accomplishments of the 2009 and 2010 seniors. Head coach Pat Fitgerald also moved into solo second on the NU career coaching wins list, passing his predecessor, Randy Walker.
Northwestern forced Nebraska to punt on the Huskers' first two possessions, the second of which came following a Wildcats fumble near midfield. NU took the ball on its second drive and marched inside the red zone, where a pass interference call against the Huskers placed the ball on the 2-yard line. Jacob Schmidt took care of the rest, diving in for the touchdown and a 7-0 Northwestern lead.
Nebraska threatened to even the score on its next drive before David Nwabuisi forced a fumble inside the 5-yard line, which was recovered by defensive end Tyler Scott. After a Wildcats three-and-out, the Northwestern defense again came up big when Jeravin Matthews forced a fumble on a completed pass. Ibraheim Campbell fell on it to turn the Huskers over once again.
The 'Cats were unable to turn it into points, however, and later were bitten by the turnover bug themselves. A Persa pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage, setting up a jump-ball interception by Lavonte David. Northwestern's defense held firm once again, surrendering only a field goal and allowing the Wildcats to bring a 7-3 lead into halftime.
The first drive of the second half was an eventful one as Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian led the Wildcats on a six-play scoring drive. NU had a touchdown taken off the board for an illegal receiver downfield penalty but recovered on Colter's acrobatic 3-yard dive for the pylon, giving Northwestern a 14-3 advantage.
The Wildcats were poised to add to their lead before a Nebraska interception in the end zone spoiled a promising NU drive and set up the Huskers' first TD of the day.
Northwestern answered with another strong drive but saw a 45-yard field goal try by Jeff Budzien hook just wide of the left upright, giving the ball over to the Huskers. NU's defense again carried the flag, this time forcing a three-and-out thanks to a TFL by Campbell and a near-interception by Scott.
The big play came on NU's next possession when Colter found Jeremy Ebert for an 81-yard catch-and-run, tied for the second-longest passing play from scrimmage in Northwestern history. Ebert's 18th career touchdown catch also put him over 2,000 yards for his career and gave the Wildcats a 21-10 lead with just over 12 minutes to play.
Nebraska mounted its rally on the next series, scoring on a 1-yard touchdown rush by Rex Burkhead and running in a two-point conversion try to pull within a field goal, 21-18.
The Wildcats answered by running the ball down the Huskers' throats, grinding out a 13-play, 64-yard drive that milked 7:21 off the clock and ended with Colter's second rushing touchdown of the game to give NU a 28-18 lead with 1:34 to play.
Though Nebraska would score late to pull within a field goal, Charles Brown fell on the ensuing onside kick to seal the victory for Northwestern.
Northwestern returns to Evanston to play its final three games of the regular season at Ryan Field, beginning with Saturday's nonconference test against Rice. Start time is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT with coverage on the Big Ten Network.
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