2010 Northwestern Wildcats Football
Northwestern Wildcats @ Indiana Hoosiers Football Recap
Northwestern 20, Indiana 17
The Northwestern Wildcats have been living on the edge all season long. On Saturday in Bloomington, Indiana, they managed to avoid falling off the cliff against the Indiana Hoosiers, thanks to an unlikely source.
If you bring up the name “Stefan Demos” to a Northwestern fan, chances are you’ll be met with a slight smile followed by a pained cringe and a grunt of lamentation. Demos is a humble worker bee with a slight Garo Yepremian-style build and a connection to the same part of the world. Demos owns Greek roots that aren’t too far removed from Yepremian’s Cypriate heritage. He’s a down-to-earth player on a blue-collar Northwestern squad, and that’s what wins respect among fans and players. What’s been tough for fans to handle – as well as for Demos himself – is that he’s missed a number of clutch kicks over the course of his Northwestern career.
Demos’s problems really began in the 2010 Outback Bowl against Auburn. With the Wildcats having multiple chances to beat the Tigers and win their first bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl against the California Golden Bears, Demos came up small. In a crazy game that careened into overtime, Auburn won because Northwestern’s kicking game simply wasn’t up to par. Demos got injured in that contest – physically as well as psychically – and the scars endured in that game seemed to carry over into 2010.
Against Purdue, Demos had a 41-yard field goal blocked, and later, with his team trailing 20-17 in the final minutes of regulation, he pulled a 45-yard field goal wide. Demos missed only two extra points in 2009, but he entered this game against Indiana having missed three PATs on the year. Moreover, Demos had nailed only 3-of-7 field goals from 40 to 49 yards. In 2009, he was only 6-of-10 from the same distance, as Northwestern’s long-range placekicking game was not able to steal three points on select occasions. Being a good guy in the locker room and off the field counts for more than anything else in a larger lifelong context, but between the painted white lines of Saturday competition, Demos had not set a standard coach Pat Fitzgerald could have been proud of. If his name was going to be called from a daunting distance, it was hard to think Demos would have the stones needed to stand and deliver.
The past fashioned a pretty remarkable prelude, then, on the final Saturday of October at Memorial Stadium on the Indiana campus.
With just under seven minutes left in regulation, Northwestern owned a 17-10 lead against the Hoosiers. The Wildcats were far from the clubhouse, though. Not only did they have to deal with Indiana quarterback Ben C happell, who threw for over 300 yards on the day; they were without quarterback Dan Persa, knocked out of the game earlier in the fourth quarter with a concussion. The Wildcats weren’t going to run away on the scoreboard. They needed a value-added play to get them to the winner’s circle. When an NU drive stalled at the Indiana 28, Demos was called upon to hit a 45-yard field goal, the very kick he missed in the loss to Purdue, the Wildcats’ first setback of the season. A miss on this kick would have left NU vulnerable to a tying touchdown. A two-game losing streak for Northwestern could have easily turned into three.
Stefan Demos had other plans. The kicker booted away his troubles by nailing the 45-yard attempt, and in one graceful movement of his foot, Demos gave Northwestern a two-possession lead. When Indiana did indeed score a touchdown in the final minutes, Demos’s kick wound up making the difference.
Demons begone for Demos. Northwestern is once again a bowl-eligible football team with six wins on the 2010 season.
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