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    Football Team Closes Out 1999 at Illinois Saturday



    Nov. 17, 1999

    NORTHWESTERN FOOTBALL (3-7, 1-6) vs Illinois (6-4, 3-4)

    Date/Time: Nov. 29, 1999/1:00 p.m. CT

    Site/Capacity: Memorial Stadium (70,904)

    Television: None

    Radio: WGN (720 AM)

    Saturday?s contest in Champaign is for the battle of the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk, which goes annually to the winner of the Northwestern-Illinois football game. The Sweet Sioux initially was designed as an authentic wooden Indian, like those that used to stand in front of cigar stores throughout the nation. It eventually posed a transportation problem and was replaced by the current Tomahawk. NU gained possession of the first trophy with a 13-7 victory in 1945. However, UI holds a 29-23-2 trophy series lead. Overall, Northwestern and Illinois meet Saturday for the 93rd time. The Illini won last year?s contest in Evanston, 13-10, and in the process snapped their 15-game Big Ten skid. In the 1990s, the Wildcats have won five of the meetings, while Illinois has come away victorious on four occasions.


    Series Record: 48-39-5, Illinois leads

    First Meeting: 1892, 16-16

    Last NU win at UI: 1997, 34-21

    Last UI win at UI: 1993, 20-13


    Randy Walker took over the reins of the Northwestern football program on January 20, 1999 with an impressive coaching resume. The 45-year-old Walker, who had coached Miami University for nine seasons, departed Oxford as the winningest head coach in school history. His mark at Miami of 59-35-5 (.621) is even more impressive when you consider the coaching greats which Miami had produced: Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler...and the list goes on. Walker graduated from Miami in 1976 with a B.A. in social studies education and earned a master?s degree in educational administration from his alma mater in 1981. He starred for MU as a fullback, leading them to three-straight Tangerine Bowl victories. Upon graduation, Walker was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, but returned to Miami to help as a graduate assistant and the next year became a full-time assistant in charge of running backs under Dick Crum. When Coach Crum departed for North Carolina, Walker joined him and spent the next 10 seasons as a Tar Heel. He coached various positions, ending up as the offensive coordinator. From there, he spent two seasons as Northwestern?s running backs coach (1988-89) and, in 1990, took over as the head coach at Miami.


    Following the Michigan State game, seven players earned Championship Performance recognition from the NU coaching staff. They were Javiar Collins, Napoleon Harris, Wayne Lucier, Rashad Morton, Salem Simon, Mike Souza, and J.J. Standring, Each player earned an N-Cat decal that will be placed on his helmet. The offensive player of the game was Wayne Lucier, the defensive player of the game was Napoleon Harris and the special teams player of the game was J.J. Standring. The Defensive Big Playmaker was Rashad Morton, while the Offensive Big Playmaker was awarded to Austin King. The Offensive Scout of the Week was David Farman and the Defensive Scout of the Week was Gabe Nyenhuis. These two players also receive N-Cat helmet decals.


    ? Northwestern gained 110 yards on the ground, close to 50 more than MSU?s No. 2 rushing defense normally allows (64.4).

    ? Northwestern had eight TFLs against Michigan State, a season high.

    ? RB Damien Anderson rushed for 78 yards to up his season total to 1,005 (eight best on single-season chart). As a redshirt sophomore, he already has 1,542 yards for his career which places him ninth on NU?s all-time rushing list.

    ? By gaining more than 1,000 yards, Anderson became Northwestern?s fourth 1,000-yard single-season rusher in five years. Darnell Autry did it in 1995 and 1996, while Adrian Autry accomplished the feat in 1997.

    ? DB Harold Blackmon had two PBUs Saturday, giving him 16 for the season (first on single-season list) and 25 for his career (first on the career list).

    ? LB Kevin Bentley had 10 tackles to give him 130 for the year. That ties him with Pat Fitzgerald for eighth place on the single-season charts.

    ? QB Zak Kustok became the first Wildcat signal caller to rush for more than 200 yards in a season since Mike Greenfield ran for 425 in 1987. Kustok has 201 this season despite missing the first three games.

    ? DB Rashad Morton had his best day in a Wildcat uniform with 16 tackles (10 solo), including two for loss.


    After controlling the game?s tempo at the outset and despite out-possessing the Spartans by nearly six minutes, Northwestern fell 34-0 to Michigan State Saturday. Keeping MSU pinned in its own half most of the first quarter, the Wildcats allowed just 41 yards of total offense. A strong running game, meanwhile, brought NU within field-goal range twice, but the efforts (missing from 51 and 48 yards out, respectively) missed. Using a punishing running game in the second quarter, the Spartans drove deep into NU territory, though the Wildcats nearly escaped when a pass looked like it might be picked off by Kyle Sanders in the end zone. Instead, he dropped it, and MSU kicked a field goal to get on the board. MSU?s Amp Campbell picked off a Zak Kustok pass at the Wildcat 35 on the next NU possession, and it took just one play for Michigan State to capitalize. Drawing the defense in with a handoff, the Spartans employed the flea-flicker, and Bill Burke hit a wide-open Plaxico Burress for the first of Burress? three touchdowns. The backbreaking play came with just 1:01 left in the half, when a Kustok fumble was picked up by T.J. Turner, who ran it in from 26 yards out to give MSU a 17-0 lead. In the second half, Ryan Van Dyke ? filling in for Burke, who was injured in the first half ? found Burress for TD passes of 35 and 84 yards, while Paul Edinger split the uprights on a 42-yard field goal. For the 10th straight game this year, redshirt sophomore running back Damien Anderson led NU in rushing. His 78 yards put him at 1,005 on the ground for the season and made him just the seventh player in NU history to achieve the milestone. Kustok and Nick Kreinbrink combined to go 5-for-17 passing on the day for 41 yards, and were sacked eight times. Senior defensive back Rashad Morton led the team on defense with 16 tackles. Junior linebacker Napoleon Harris had two sacks on the day for a combined 16-yard loss, while senior corner Harold Blackmon had two PBUs to become NU?s career leader (25) in that category.


    Saturday?s game versus Illinois will be the last contest for the following 10 Wildcats: wide receiver Aaron Burrell, tight end John Cerasani, defensive tackle Jeff Dyra, tight end Corbett Elsen, wide receiver Tyrone Gooch, guard Brian Hemmerle, wide receiver Phil Miller, free safety Kyle Sanders, tight end Jay Tant and defensive end Gladston Taylor.


    Did you know that of the 44 players on Northwestern?s two deep, only six are graduating seniors? An amazing 20 true starters will return in 2000. Jeff Dyra and Jay Tant are the only ones to depart.


    Injuries have plagued the Wildcat wide receivers, tight ends and fullbacks the entire season. The corps have become so depleted that many times a walk-on is lining up for NU. At wide receiver, Sam Simmons (fractured clavicle) and Jon Schweighardt (fractured elbow) were both lost in the Iowa game, Teddy Johnson had a stress fracture in his shin and missed the first two games, had a viral infection in the Wisconsin game and played only two quarters, then suffered a concussion in the second quarter at Michigan, Rob Johnson fractured his left wrist and Derrick Thompson fractured his rib in the Minnesota contest. At tight end, John Cerasani has played with a chronic ankle sprain for six weeks, Corbett Elsen had a nerve root irritation and missed four games, and Jay Tant has played with a hamstring strain all season and suffered a concussion versus Indiana. At fullback, Ian Miller suffered a concussion in the TCU game and missed the next three games. At Michigan, Miller again suffered a concussion, and he will miss the remainder of the season.


    Senior Harold Blackmon has assaulted the PBU portion of the Northwestern record book in 1999. He has 16 PBUs to his credit this year and, in the process, broke the single-season record of 13 set by Rodney Ray in 1994. Meanwhile, Blackmon?s 25 career PBUs broke Ray?s career mark of 23 as well. This season, he is fourth in the Big Ten in PBUs. Blackmon has one year of eligibility remaining. Teammate Shegun Cummings-John is also having a banner year in the PBU department. He has 14 this year and is fifth in the Big Ten. Cummings-John, who had just one PBU in 1998, has two years of eligibility remaining.


    Six true freshmen have seen a lot of playing time this season for the Wildcats. Of those six, Austin King has garnered the most playing time and has started at center for NU since the Duke game. In those eight starts, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year candidate has garnered four championship performances (*) and one Offensive Big Playmaker of the Game (^) award from the Northwestern coaching staff. In his eight starts, King has 71 knockdowns and 30 pins (pancakes) while grading out at an average of 77.1 percent.

    The other five freshmen are: running back Louis Ayeni, who has 29 rushes for 96 yards and 17 kickoff returns for 295 yards (17.4 ypr), wide receiver Jon Schweighardt (two starts before being sidelined with an elbow injury against Iowa), who tallied 11 receptions for 134 yards overall and returned eight punts for 20 yards, as well as linebackers Vince Cartaya, Pat Durr and Regis Eller, who have played mostly on special teams.


    With one game left to play, Damien Anderson has already reached the 1,000-yard rushing plateau. In doing so, Anderson became the fourth Wildcat running back in the last five years to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. Darnell Autry did it in 1995 and 1996, while Adrian Autry broke the barrier in 1997. In all, the redshirt sophomore became the seventh Wildcat to gain entrance into the elite club. After gaining 537 yards in 1998, Anderson has already amassed 1,005 yards in 1999. He is currently ranked fourth in the conference and 26th in the country with a 100.5 yards per game average. In addition, Anderson is ranked fifth in the conference and 50th nationally in all-purpose yards at 115.4 per game. Four weeks ago versus Iowa, Anderson set career highs for rushing yards (162) and rushing attempts (42). He has rushed for more than 100 yards in a game four times this season. His career rushing mark of 1,542 yards already ranks ninth on NU?s all-time list, while his 1,005 yards in 1999 ranks 10th on the Wildcat all-time single season chart as well. Anderson, who has two years of eligibility remaining, needs 46 yards to move into eight and 58 yards to move into seventh on Northwestern?s all-time rushing list.


    Sophomore linebacker Kevin Bentley has picked up where Barry Gardner left off last year as one of the nation?s top tacklers. In nine games, he has registered 130 total tackles (tops in the Big Ten), 82 of which are solo efforts (also first in the conference). In addition, he has intercepted a Drew Brees pass for a 40-yard touchdown to his credit, collected another INT versus Iowa which eventually led to a TD and forced a fumble from Ron Dayne which led to a field goal. Bentley has three PBUs, two sacks for 20 yards, seven TFLs and two fumble recoveries. Against Indiana, he had a career-high 25 stops, 21 of which were solo. Also of note is fellow redshirt sophomore linebacker Napoleon Harris. ?Napo? is second in the Big Ten Conference in tackles per game with 11.1 (Bentley leads that category at 13.0 tpg). Overall, Harris has 100 total tackles, fifth in the Big Ten. Both student-athletes have two years of eligibility remaining.


    ? Jeff Dyra, a senior defensive tackle, broke his left foot during the Indiana contest. The fifth-year senior was diagnosed with a slight stress fracture in the foot prior to the Duke contest, but was able to play effectively in the next three games.

    ? Ty Garner, a senior offensive lineman, suffered a torn ACL & MCL last year in practice. He took a medical noncounter and even though he has one year of eligibility remaining, his injuries preclude him from returning to football.

    ? Chris Jones, a sophomore linebacker, tore his ACL in the Miami game. He has already had surgery to repair the ligament damage.

    ? Ian Miller, a senior fullback, suffered his second concussion of the season in the Michigan game. He took a medical noncounter and even though he has one year of eligibility remaining his injuries preclude him from returning to football.

    ? Scott Musso, a fifth-year senior defensive back, suffered a career-ending injury when he tore his achilles last year. He took a medical noncounter.

    ? Jon Schweighardt, a freshman wide receiver, broke his left elbow in the Iowa game. Amazingly, Schweighardt played the entire second half against the Hawkeyes with the break, thinking he had only suffered a cut. He caught four second-half passes including a crucial 18-yarder on the game-winning drive.

    ? Sophomore WR Sam Simmons, who broke his clavicle in the Iowa game.


    The Wildcats schedule for next year is listed below. The only new opponent is Northern Illinois, a team that NU last played in 1990.

    Sept. 2 Northern Illinois, Sept. 9 Duke, Sept. 16 @ TCU, Sept. 23 @ Wisconsin, Sept. 30 @ Michigan State, Oct. 7 Indiana, Oct. 14 Purdue, Oct. 21 Bye Week, Oct. 28 @ Minnesota, Nov. 4 Michigan, Nov. 11 @ Iowa, Nov. 18 Illinois.