Nov. 20, 2004
Final Stats |
Photo Gallery | Postgame Notes | Postgame Quotes
By NANCY ARMOUR
AP Sports Writer
EVANSTON, Ill. - Brett Basanez connected with Jonathan Fields on a
7-yard scoring pass in overtime to give Northwestern a 28-21 victory Saturday,
keeping the Wildcats' bowl hopes alive.
It was the fourth overtime game this year for the Wildcats, an NCAA Division
I-A record. Northwestern (6-5, 5-3 Big Ten) also beat Ohio State and Indiana in
overtime, and lost to TCU.
The Wildcats have to win
at Hawaii next weekend to be bowl eligible.
The loss spoiled a fine game by Pierre Thomas, who rushed for 131 yards and
two scores for Illinois. It was his third 100-yard game of the season. Quarterback Chris Pazan, who earned the surprise start, was 20-of-33 for 149 yards.
Basanez was 18-of-31 for 184 yards. Noah Herron rushed for 97 yards and two
Illinois (3-8, 1-7), which was coming off an open date, was trying to win its second straight game after ending a long Big Ten losing streak.
It looked like the Fighting Illini might just pull it off, scoring a go-ahead
touchdown on a fake field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter.
But Jeff Backes returned a punt 73 yards for a score to tie the game, and
Jason Reda's 31-yard field goal attempt for Illinois in the final seconds of
regulation sailed wide left.
Northwestern got the ball first in overtime and wasted little time moving
down the field. Basanez found Kim Thompson for a 6-yard gain, then connected
with Fields for the 7-yard score.
The Northwestern defense was all over Pazan in overtime, hurrying him and
forcing him to make bad throws. They were in his receivers' faces, too. After
Mark Kornfeld caught a 4-yard pass to give Illinois fourth-and-6 at the 11,
Pazan looked for Kendrick Jones in the end zone on fourth down.
But Marvin Ward smothered him, and Jones never got a hand on the ball. As
officials signaled that the game was over, Ward's teammates piled on top of
him. Senior defensive tackle Luis Castillo went into the stands to celebrate
with fans, and several teammates joined him.
Northwestern finished with a perfect Big Ten home record for the first time
since 1996. It also was the Wildcats' second straight victory in the intrastate