RECAP: Northwestern defeats Syracuse 48-27
WNUR’s Jim Sannes (@JimSannes) recaps today’s win for the Northwestern Wildcats over the Syracuse Orange, 48-27.
After jumping out to a 34-7 halftime lead, the Northwestern Wildcats were able to coast their way to a 48-27 victory over the Syracuse Orange to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Northwestern’s first drive was an indicator for the rest of the game, as the Wildcats moved the ball 75 yards over only four plays to take an early 7-0 lead. The drive culminated with an eight-yard pass from Kain Colter to Treyvon Green. Colter, who was questionable prior to the game after sustaining a head injury last week against California, said he felt no ill-effects.
“I felt like that first series came a bit too easy,” Colter said. “They made some adjustments and fixed some things, so I really needed to settle down out there. But, that was my first game, and as the game went along, I felt a lot more comfortable.”
Colter and Trevor Siemian worked as surgeons throughout the night, slicing the Orange defense to the tune of 375 yards and completing 81 percent of their 37 combined attempts. Siemian tossed three touchdowns to Colter’s one in the team’s largest passing output since November of 2011. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald mentioned knowing when to be conservative and when to open things up as being a key to the vertical passing game.
“We had to go about making sure when we could take the nickels, we did, and that when the big plays opened up, we had an awareness level to take the shots,” Fitzgerald said.
The offense relied heavily on the speed of receiver Tony Jones to open up the Syracuse defense. Jones ended up setting career highs with nine receptions and 185 yards, including a 47-yard pass from Siemian to make the score 41-13 in the fourth quarter. Jones, who recorded five catches for 70 yards last week against California, received high praise from Fitzgerald.
“It’s back-to-back weeks that Tony has played at an elite level – an All-Big Ten level,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve got to continue to find ways to be creative and get him the football.”
The defense did its part, as well, forcing four interceptions from Syracuse quarterback Drew Allen. The performance gave the squad seven interceptions on the season, a milestone they did not reach until the final game of the regular season last year.
“One thing we pride ourselves on is being able to get the ball back for the offense,” said safety Traveon Henry, who recorded his first career interception second quarter. “We try to emphasize rips, strips, tips because tips equal picks.”
Allen finished 27-41 for 279 yards and one touchdown in addition to the four interceptions. Henry said he was able to read Allen’s body language to make a break on the ball for his pick.
“His shoulders were to his left, my right, and they were high, so off of that, I saw a chance and an opportunity to make a play,” said Henry, who also finished with eight solo tackles. “From there, I just got excited – like a squirrel trying to get a nut.”
Without running back Venric Mark, who missed the game with a lower body injury, Northwestern was able to finish with 206 yards on the ground on 44 carries. Colter led the way with 11 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown. Treyvon Green iced the game for the Wildcats with a score from 28 yards out to bring the score to 48-20 with 5:18 left in the fourth. Green ended the night with 66 yards on 14 carries.
The ‘Cats will remain at home next week to take on the Western Michigan Broncos. Opening kick-off is scheduled for 8:00 pm CT with the WNUR Sports Pre-Game Show beginning at 7:00 at 89.3 FM in the Evanston/Chicago area and at WNURSports.com.