Football: Cats handle Salukis with ease

Jake Simpson

This week, there was no fourth-quarter drama. Tyrell Sutton and the Wildcats’ defense made sure of that.

The senior tailback had three touchdown runs, pacing Northwestern to a 33-7 drubbing of Southern Illinois.

A week after squeaking past Duke 24-20, NU (3-0) dominated Southern Illinois (1-1) on both sides of the ball, rolling to its most lopsided victory of the year. While Sutton and Co. took care of the Salukis on offense, the Cats’ defensive line pummeled an overmatched and out-muscled Southern Illinois backfield.

Sutton, who outscored Southern Illinois all by himself, rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries and continued to be the focal point of NU’s new no-huddle offense. The senior gave NU the lead for good in the second quarter, with a sublime 44-yard touchdown run, sidestepping a pair of Southern Illinois defensive backs on his way to the end zone.

Despite playing in monsoon-like conditions, NU continued to pile up the yards. The Cats wore down the Salukis’ defense with their relentless no-huddle attack. On one second-quarter scoring drive, quarterback C.J. Bachér threw completions on five consecutive plays – a rapid-fire assault that kept the Salukis on their heels.

While the offense ran past the Salukis, the Cats’ defense ran through them. Led by a ferocious effort from its front four, the revamped unit harried Southern Illinois quarterback Chris Dieker, amassing six sacks and forcing Dieker to flee the pocket on numerous occasions.

Senior defensive end Corey Wootton continued his torrid start. The preseason All Big-Ten candidate had two sacks and several hurries, seeming to spend most of his time in the Salukis’ backfield.

The Cats put away the reeling Salukis with a key play on special teams. Redshirt freshman Jacob Schmidt burst through the line to block the Salukis’ punt, recovering the ball five yards from the end zone. NU settled for one of kicker Amado Villarreal’s four field goals, to take a 26-7 lead.