Wildcats hold on late against Golden Gophers, become bowl eligible

Northwestern+running+back+Venric+Mark+evades+tacklers+on+the+wet+field+at+Minnesota.+Mark+provided+the+majority+of+the+offense+for+the+now-bowl+eligible+Wildcats%2C+rushing+for+a+career+high+182+yards+on+20+carries.

Rafi Letzter/Daily Senior Staffer

Northwestern running back Venric Mark evades tacklers on the wet field at Minnesota. Mark provided the majority of the offense for the now-bowl eligible Wildcats, rushing for a career high 182 yards on 20 carries.

Josh Walfish, Gameday Editor

MINNEAPOLIS — When Northwestern needed it the most, its defense stepped up and sealed the Wildcats’ 21-13 win over Minnesota on Saturday.

The Golden Gophers (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) drove deep into the Cats’ territory late in the fourth quarter, but the defense held from eight yards out to preserve the victory. Minnesota went for it on fourth down with about two and a half minutes left and quarterback Max Shortell overthrew the fade route in the end zone to give the ball back to NU (6-1, 2-1).

The Cats started the game with a flash, forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff and then converting the takeaway into a touchdown on the next play. Junior running back Venric Mark had a banner day in the first half, ending it with a career-high 151 rushing yards. He had two touchdowns: a 25-yard run at the beginning of the game and then a 48-yard scamper in the second quarter.

NU’s passing game struggled again Saturday with only 67 yards coming through the air. Junior quarterback Kain Colter completed all 10 of his passes for 63 yards, but sophomore quarterback Trevor Siemian struggled going one for seven for four yards. Colter scored a touchdown on the ground to give the Cats a 14-3 lead.

The win makes the Cats bowl eligible for their sixth consecutive season.

— Josh Walfish