Nov. 19, 2011
Box Score |
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Site: Evanston, Ill. (Ryan Field)
Score: Northwestern 28, Minnesota 13
Records: Northwestern (6-5, 3-4 Big Ten), Minnesota (2-9, 1-6 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Saturday, Nov. 26 - vs. Michigan State (Ryan Field), 11 a.m.
EVANSTON, Ill. - Northwestern produced 21 points in the first quarter, scoring on its first three drives, but the defense took over the rest of the way as the Wildcats defeated Minnesota, 28-13 Saturday afternoon at Ryan Field. With the win, Northwestern is now bowl eligible for a school record fifth straight season.
Four different players scored touchdowns for Northwestern as Kain Colter, Demetrius Fields, Treyvon Green and Jacob Schmidt all reached the end zone. NU quarterback Dan Persa finished the day 22-31 with 216 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Brian Peters had 11 tackles, including one for a loss of four yards, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and interception. Bryce McNaul also had 11 tackles for the NU defense.
Northwestern used a 44-yard kickoff return by Venric Mark to set up its six-play 54-yard scoring drive and take the 7-0 lead on its first possession of the game. Minnesota was whistled for pass interference and a personal foul on back-to-back plays deep in its own territory, giving the Wildcats the ball on the 7-yard line. Dan Persa then completed the drive, finding Kain Colter for the touchdown reception.
Minnesota then evened the score as MarQueis Gray capped off a seven-play, 66-yard drive with a five-yard rush into the end zone. The Gophers faced 3rd and 6 from the NU 37-yard line but Gray completed a 29-yard pass to Da'Jon McKnight, putting the Gophers in the red zone to set up the score.
Mark had another sizeable 44-yard return, as the Wildcats were in Minnesota territory (43-yard line) to start the second drive. Facing 4th and 1 at the Gophers' 34-yard line, Schmidt gave NU a new set of downs with a three-yard rush. A two-yard run by Adonis Smith, incomplete pass for Persa and five-yard reception by Drake Dunsmore, brought up another fourth down. The Wildcats went for it on 4th-and-5 as Persa found Fields in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown pass, giving NU the 14-7 lead.
Northwestern forced a three-and-out on Minnesota's second drive and the Gophers' punt went out of bounds at their own 38-yard-line. NU capitalized on good field position once again as Green's two-yard touchdown scamper put the 'Cats up 21-7. Northwestern rushed seven times on the nine-play 38-yard scoring drive.
Another three-and-out for Minnesota gave Northwestern the ball at its own 21-yard line to start the second quarter. The Wildcats drove to the Minnesota 45-yard line before Derrick Wells picked off Persa's pass, giving the Gophers the ball at their own 31-yard line.
The Wildcat defense kept Minnesota without a touchdown on its fourth drive as Jordan Mabin broke up a pass in the end zone on 3rd and 10 at the NU 11. The Gophers settled for a 28-yard field goal, putting the score at 21-10. After 28 combined points in the first quarter, Minnesota's field goal were the only points in the second quarter and third quarters.
Minnesota drove to the Northwestern 28-yard line to open the second half but Peters forced and recovered a fumble by Duane Bennett, giving the Wildcats the ball at their own 25. NU was unable to produce any points in its first three-and-out of the afternoon but Brandon Williams booted a 77-yard punt, setting up Minnesota's drive at its own 4-yard line.
Both teams were unable to score on their ensuing possessions as the Gophers punted and Green fumbled for NU at the Minnesota 38. The Gophers were within striking distance, facing 3rd and goal at the nine, but the Northwestern defense stepped up once again with Peters intercepting Gray's pass in the end zone.
Northwestern took advantage of the turnover and found the end zone one last time in the fourth quarter as Jacob Schmidt's 1-yard touchdown run completed a 15-play 80-yard scoring drive. The Wildcats faced another fourth down situation and Persa kept the drive alive, finding Colter for an 11-yard gain. Smith rushed three times, putting Northwestern at the 1-yard line before Schmidt scampered in for NU's fourth touchdown of the afternoon.
Minnesota tacked on three more points with a 48-yard field goal by Jordan Wettstein, putting the score at 28-13 with 7:28 to play. The Gophers advanced to the NU 25-yard line but Quentin Williams sacked Gray for a loss of two and Gray fumbled on 3rd and 11 to set up the field goal.
Neither team scored on their final drives as both turned the ball over on downs, putting the final score at 28-13 in favor of the Wildcats.
Northwestern closes out the 2011 regular season at 11 a.m. next Saturday when Michigan State visits Ryan Field.
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