NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

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    Brian Musso leads the Wildcats to victory with two touchdown catches. (file photo)
    Nov. 15, 1997

    Wildcats Close Season in Victory

    CHICAGO--Brian Musso caught seven passes for 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the go-ahead score early in the third quarter, as Northwestern held on for a 15-14 Big Ten Conference victory over 22nd-ranked Iowa.

    After back-to-back Big Ten titles, the Wildcats (5-7, 3-5 Big Ten) merely were spoilers and may have done just that with their third straight win over the Hawkeyes. Iowa (6-4, 3-4) absorbed its fourth loss in six games and may have squandered any chance for an appearance in a major bowl.

    Musso had touchdown catches of 31 and 40 yards from Tim Hughes, who replaced the injured Chris Hamdorf in the second quarter. His second score came with 10:14 remaining in the third quarter and gave Northwestern the lead for the first time.

    Tavian Banks had 30 carries for 169 yards and two touchdowns for Iowa, which again was without injured quarterback Matt Sherman. The dangerous Tim Dwight was limited to 32 yards on two catches and was limited to one punt return for 13 yards as Northwestern repeatedly kicked away from him.

    Amid swirling snow, the Wildcats took the lead when Hughes threw into the left flat for Musso, who eluded three converging defenders as he caught the ball and pranced untouched into the end zone.

    From that point, Northwestern managed just one first down, but it came on its final possession and helped run out the clock. The defense was strong down the stretch, and Iowa did not help itself by missing two field goals, throwing an interception and failing on a 4th-and-3 from the Wildcats 27 within its last six possessions.

    The Wildcats were 0-for-4 on field goals. Chad Johnson missed a 50-yarder and Zach Bromert a 43-yarder in the second quarter. Bromert missed a 33-yarder in the third quarter and Johnson was way short and right on a 47-yard attempot with 2:57 to play.

    Hughes was 9-of-18 for 131 yards after coming on for Hamdorf, who sprained a knee. Adrian Autry added 67 yards on 25 carries to eclipse 1,000 yards for the Wildcats, who moved to 17-41-3 in the all-time series. Northwestern had lost 21 in a row before its current three-game series streak, its first since 1965-67.

    Banks raced 46 yards for a score to give Iowa the lead less than six minutes into the contest. Hughes countered with a 31-yard TD pass to Musso that tied it with 11:42 to play in the second quarter.

    But Banks gave the lead back to the Hawkeyes with a one-yard TD run with 1:41 left in the first half. It was his 19th score of the season and 17th on the ground, both school records.

    Northwestern closed to 14-9 early in the third quarter. Iowa punter Jason Baker lined up in his own end zone, but long snapper Ryan McCormick whipped the ball past him for a safety. Musso's second score came on the ensuing possession.

    Randy Reiners was 4-of-10 for just 71 yards and an interception as he lost for the first time in three games as a starter. Sherman has an injured right hand.

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