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Northwestern TE Trey Pugh Rebounds From Injury-Riddled Career With Pair of Touchdowns

The fifth year superback was a bright spot for the Wildcats' offense against Michigan State.

Despite falling to the Spartans 38-21, Northwestern fifth year superback Trey Pugh put on a show for Wildcats' fans in his first game since 2019. Pugh recorded a career highs with two touchdowns and four receptions. Pugh is the first Wildcat to have two receiving touchdowns in a season opener since at least 2000.

Pugh hauled in a one-yard pass from QB Hunter Johnson for his first-career touchdown and Northwestern’s first touchdown of the season with 9:45 remaining in the first quarter. Pugh's reception, coupled with a good kick by Charlie Kuhbander, put the Wildcats on the board for the first time and brought the score to 21-7.

Johnson and Pugh connected a second time with 11:17 remaining in the third quarter on a five-yard pass, which was followed by a second good kick by Kuhbander. The Wildcats trailed the Spartans 28-14. 

"It was selflishly very exciting," Pugh said following the game. "I'm surely just grateful just be back on the field. To have the opportunity to be out here, to go to practice every day. To do what I love at the potential that I'm capable of  really feels great, but I'm a little bummed about the loss." 

Pugh's connection with quarterback Hunter Johnson was a bright spot for Northwestern's offense Friday. Johnson threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns. The WIldcats struggled with the run game, recording only 117 yards on 38 carries. Ultimately, Northwestern totaled 400 yards on 81 offensive plays.

"Hunter's obviously very talented," Pugh said. "As an offense we had those explosive plays. I think we were firing on not all cylinders, but we were firing pretty well as a whole."

The offense picked up drastically as the game continued; however, Michigan State's attack didn't let up and made each chance for a Northwestern scoring play imperative. The Wildcats scored on 3 of 4 red zone chances.

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"I think we're right there where we want to be, but the red zone was killing us," Pugh continued. "We've got to find a way to execute and finish those drives. We made four trips down there to the red zone. We're right there and we've got to turn those into points. That killed us today."

Pugh's two touchdowns marked the first in his career as a Wildcat and make him is the first Northwestern TE to score two touchdowns since Garrett Dickerson received two passes in the end zone on Nov. 18, 2017 against Minnesota. 

Pugh has been plagued with injury throughout his career as a Wildcat. The 6-5, 250-pound TE recorded five total receptions for 38 yards between 2017-2019, before missing the entirety of the 2020 season due to injury. 

In 2019, injuries limited Pugh to only four games, finishing the season with two receptions. Pugh played in 9 games his sophomore seasons. In 2017, the now-superback appeared in 11 games, primarily on the special teams units. During his senior year of high school in 2016, Pugh suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. 

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