2011 Northwestern Wildcats Football

 
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Northwestern Wildcats vs Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Recap

Northwestern 28, Minnesota 13

 

 

Northwestern merchandise The journey from the rubble and wreckage of a 2-5 start is now complete. A season that was headed to the bottomless black pit of an idle postseason now has a late-December or early-January destination in its near future.

The Northwestern Wildcats became bowl-eligible with a win at home over the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday. Northwestern, which endured a five-game losing streak earlier this season, has now won four games in a row. The Wildcat program isn’t about to reach the proverbial next level, and the boys from Evanston, Illinois, have a lot of work to do if they want to move upward in the realm of Big Ten competition, but for now – for this season – they’ve done enough to justify some smiles of satisfaction when their 12-game schedule runs its course on Thanksgiving weekend.

Dan Persa threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats, who wobbled in the first half but did not collapse in the second half the way they did in the first half of the 2011 season. Northwestern had suffered ugly late-stage losses against Army and Illinois, but this uneven performance was accompanied by a distinctly beautiful result which will allow coach Pat Fitzgerald to sleep a lot more peacefully in the offseason.

Northwestern scored on its first three possessions and led 21-7 at the end of the first quarter. Persa hit Kain Colter and Demetrius Fields for touchdowns, and Treyvon Green ran for a touchdown. Jacob Schmidt’s fourth-quarter touchdown run gave the Wildcats a 28-10 lead and effectively sealed the victory.

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Duane Bennett ran for a season-high 127 yards for the Gophers, who outgained Northwestern 393-368, but had trouble finishing drives. Quarterback Marqueis Gray ran for 147 yards and threw for 124. Gray completed just 9 of 21 pass attempts, with one interception, against a Northwestern defense that has improved dramatically during its win streak.

NU’s Jeremy Ebert, who set career-highs in receiving yards in wins over Nebraska and Rice, led Northwestern receivers with six catches for 62 yards against the Gophers. Colter, the multi-threat athlete who also backs up Persa at quarterback, caught five passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. Schmidt led the Wildcats in rushing with 69 yards. Venric Mark set up two Northwestern touchdown drives with kickoff returns of 42 and 44 yards.

Da’Jon McKnight led Minnesota with 52 yards receiving. Brandon Green added 49 yards. Each had just two catches.

By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer

 

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