Coming off of a bye weekend, the Northwestern Wildcats were looking to turn their season around and regain some ground in the Big Ten following their most recent contest, a 56-7 loss against the Nebraska Huskers.
The Wildcats made it clear they were ready to flip the script when they grabbed an early 7-0 lead with just over six minutes left in the first quarter, thanks to a 64-yard touchdown connection from quarterback Ryan Hilinski to junior receiver Malik Washington. Northwestern was able to keep the Scarlet Knights quiet for much of the first half, allowing only 38 rushing yards and 115 yards in the air, especially due to the leadership of graduate linebacker Chris Bergin.
The Scarlet Knights knotted the game at one score a piece halfway through the second quarter as senior quarterback Noah Vedral led Rutgers down the field on 7 plays for 97 yards. The drive culminated in an 18-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Bo Melton.
Before heading into the locker room, the Wildcats regained a 14-7 lead with a 2-yard touchdown from Hilinski to sophomore tight end Marshall Lang. The Wildcats finished off the half with a total of 288 yards, 231 of which came through the air.
After the intermission, both the Wildcats and Scarlet Knights seemed to have cooled down quite a bit, as neither team got any points on the board, including a missed 33-yard field goal attempt by Rutgers' junior kicker Valentino Ambrosio. The Wildcats tallied 69 yards while the Scarlet Knights collected just 48 in the quarter.
The run game finally started to pick up for the Wildcats near the end of the contest, as graduate running back Andrew Clair extended the Northwestern lead to 21-7 with 7:33 left in the game on a 3-yard touchdown run.
In terms of final tallies, Northwestern led on all fronts, as they racked up a total of 402 yards to the Scarlet Knights' 222. Hilinski finished the day going 18-33 with 267 yards, while Rutgers' Vedral accumulated 152 yards with 18 completions on 30 attempts. The Wildcats also tallied 11 tackles for loss and four sacks on the day.
The Wildcats, now a 3-3 team (1-2 Big Ten), will look to continue a trend in the positive direction next week when they take on top-10 conference foe Michigan at The Big House.
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