Clayton Thorson ran for a 42-yard touchdown to give Northwestern a 10-3 lead over Stanford going into halftime in their season opener at Ryan Field.
Stanford scored on the opening drive to take an early 3-0 lead. Conrad Ukropina kicked a 29-yard field goal after the Cardinal went 64 yards in 6 minutes and 27 seconds.
After Northwestern went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, the Wildcats asserted their strength defensively. Anthony Walker made back-to-back tackles for loss, and on third-and-14, Godwin Igwebuike made a great open-field tackle to force a punt.
The Wildcats got their offense rolling as well before the end of the first quarter. Justin Jackson busted 16 and 19 yard runs on a 13-play, 69-yard drive that resulted in a 31-yard Jack Mitchell field goal to tie the game.
The next three drives all resulted in punts, and the game appeared to be headed for a stalemate. However, NU drove into Stanford territory, and on 3rd-and-7 at the Cardinal 42, Clayton Thorson scrambled for 42 yards and the first Wildcats touchdown of the season. Mitchell hit the extra point, and NU led 10-3 midway through the second quarter.
It wasn’t long before the Wildcats got the ball back. Stanford fumbled on the second play of their drive, and Anthony Walker fell on the football to give Northwestern possession in Cardinal territory. The ‘Cats couldn’t score though and held their seven-point lead going into halftime.
Northwestern relied heavily on the ground game offensively in the first half. Jackson went for 64 yards on 14 carries in the first 30 minutes, and Thorson’s 42-yard burst helped him total 63 yards on the ground. Thorson also threw for 42 yards, completing six of 14 passes. Christian Jones caught four of those balls for 35 receiving yards.
Anthony Walker starred defensively with six tackles, three of which for loss, in the first half. Traveon Henry recorded five tackles and one sack as well.