Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Breaking out in style

Northwestern’s offense had its biggest game of the season – and didn’t score in the first quarter.

Wideout Eric Peterman had a passing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in less than four minutes. Quarterback C.J. Bachér had so many carries, he began to look like the second coming of Vince Young.

This game was full of surprises. And the biggest surprise was the beating NU and its offense put on Purdue.

Behind monster games from Peterman and running back Tyrell Sutton, the Wildcats scored a season-high 24 points in the second quarter and never looked back, overcoming the loss of senior linebacker Malcolm Arrington to bury the Boilermakers (2-5, 0-3 Big Ten) 48-26.Coach Pat Fitzgerald praised his squad for bouncing back after last week’s loss to Michigan State.

“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond,” he said. “I thought we responded pretty well today.”

For the first 15 minutes, it looked like the Cats still had a Spartan-sized hangover. Led by senior quarterback Curtis Painter, the Boilermakers twice drove down the field at will. Bachér tossed another ill-advised pass for his third interception in five quarters. As the first quarter came to a close, NU had yet to put it all together.

Then the Cats began to click.

At the center of a wild second quarter was Peterman, who almost singlehandedly gave NU the lead.The senior caught a wide receiver screen pass and went the distance, spinning away from Purdue safety Dwight Mclean and outrunning two other Boilermakers to the end zone.

“There was great blocking,” Peterman said. “The offensive line got down field and Ross (Lane) made a great block on the outside. I just had one guy to beat, the safety, and that was on me.”

The 45-yard touchdown gave NU a 7-6 lead, and after the defense forced Purdue to punt, Bachér led the offense back up the field.

But the senior quarterback was only peripherally involved in NU’s second touchdown, which came on the team’s most successful trick play of the season.

Sutton took a handoff and flipped it back to Peterman, and the former high school quarterback found a wide-open Sidney Stewart in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown pass and a 14-6 lead.

While the offense racked up the points, the defense overcame the loss of Arrington, who fell to the turf clutching his left knee after a carry by Purdue senior running back Kory Sheets late in the first quarter.

Sophomore Nate Williams filled in for Arrington, whose status was still unknown after the game. But junior safety Brad Phillips said filling the void left by the senior linebacker was a team effort.

“I don’t know if we really rallied around (the injury),” he said. “Everyone just stepped up their game, knowing he’s not in.”

After Painter was benched in the second quarter, backup quarterback Joey Elliott fumbled his first snap, and Cats linebacker Prince Kwateng fell on the ball at the Boilermakers’ 9-yard line.

The fumble was the first of NU’s five takeaways, matching a season-high set against Iowa three weeks ago.

Three plays later, senior kicker Amado Villarreal booted a 26-yard field goal. In slightly more than four minutes, NU had reeled off 17 unanswered points, more than they had scored in any quarter this season.

After a Sheets touchdown run cut the NU lead to 17-12, Bachér executed a flawless two-minute drill, driving the Cats 57 yards in just 54 seconds. Sutton’s first touchdown since Sept. 13, a nine-yard reception from a scrambling Bachér, sent NU into the locker room with its largest halftime lead in a Big Ten game since 2006.

“Before the play, Tyrell told me he’d get open if no one was open,” Bachér said. “I found him over the middle, and it was a great play by him.”

In the second half, the Cats relied on a heavy dose of Sutton to put the game out of reach. The senior tailback converted two critical third-and-long plays on wide receiver screens on his way to 158 all-purpose yards.

Bachér, meanwhile, kept himself busy with a series of quarterback scrambles and designed draws. He finished with a career-high 15 rushes for 41 yards.

The win moved NU into the USA Today/Coaches’ Poll at No. 24. More impressive than receiving the national ranking was the sheer magnitude of the Cats’ offensive explosion.

The 48 points were the most ever in the team’s 76 career meetings with Purdue. It was NU’s largest point total of the season by more than two touchdowns, and it all came in the final three quarters.

Beyond the explosion of points, the Cats showed a poise not seen in recent years in bouncing back from last week’s loss and the early deficit.

“I think we proved that we’re a lot more mature than we’ve been in recent years,” Sutton said.

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Breaking out in style