Gophers can't stop Northwestern from winning fourth straightMinnesota Sports
-- Dan Persa threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns, as the Northwestern Wildcats claimed a 28-13 win over Minnesota in Big Ten action at Dyche Stadium.
Evanston, IL (Sports Network) - Dan Persa threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns, as the Northwestern Wildcats claimed a 28-13 win over Minnesota in Big Ten action at Dyche Stadium.
The victory was the fourth in a row for the Wildcats (6-5, 3-4 Big Ten), who are now bowl eligible for the fourth straight season, a new school record.
The Golden Gophers (2-9, 1-6) suffered their third straight loss, despite a pair of 100-yard rushers. Quarterback MarQueis Gray ran for a game-high 147 yards and a touchdown, in addition to throwing for 124 yards and an interception. Duane Bennett carried 23 times for 127 yards in the loss.
There wasn't much defense in the first quarter, which saw Northwestern open up a 21-7 lead with touchdowns on each of its first three drives. Persa got the scoring started with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Kain Colter less than two minutes into the game.
Minnesota answered with a quick scoring drive on its first possession, as Gray scored on a five-yard run to make it a 7-7 game with 11:09 remaining in the opening frame.
However, the Wildcats responded with two more first-quarter touchdowns. The first came on a 28-yard pass from Persa to Demetrius Fields at the 8:13 mark, and Treyvon Green tacked on a two-yard touchdown run with 2:29 to play in the period.
Both defenses settled in from there. A 28-yard field goal from Minnesota's Jordan Wettstein midway through the second quarter marked the game's only points until the final 11 minutes.
NU's Jacob Schmidt put the Wildcats on top 28-10 with a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, capping a 15-play, 80-yard drive. Minnesota could only muster another field goal from Wettstein (48 yards) the rest of the way.
Prior to NW's current win streak, the team had lost five in a row and seemed like a long shot to qualify for the postseason. Now winners of four straight, the Wildcats have gotten hot at just the right time. Brian Peters anchored the defense with 11 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the victory.
Northwestern hosts Michigan State, who clinched the Legends Division yesterday with a 55-3 win over Indiana, next Saturday while Minnesota closes its regular season at home vs. Illinois.