Rapid Recap: Stanford 17, Northwestern 7

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Rapid Recap: Stanford 17, Northwestern 7

Greg Newsome reaches for the tackle. The sophomore cornerback had 4 tackles on Saturday.

Greg Newsome reaches for the tackle. The sophomore cornerback had 4 tackles on Saturday.

Noah Fricks-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Greg Newsome reaches for the tackle. The sophomore cornerback had 4 tackles on Saturday.

Noah Fricks-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Noah Fricks-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Greg Newsome reaches for the tackle. The sophomore cornerback had 4 tackles on Saturday.

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

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Even though he hadn’t thrown the ball well all day, the highly touted transfer still got the chance to be the hero.

Down three points, Hunter Johnson got the ball on the Wildcats’ 22 yard line down three points with 30 seconds left in the game. But Johnson’s uninspiring debut was capped off by his worst play of the day– a fumble into the Stanford endzone that the Cardinal recovered for a touchdown that clinched a 17-7 win.

The offense struggled all day with Johnson or senior backup T.J. Green taking snaps. Johnson started but was subbed out for Green late in the second quarter, but Green was knocked out of the game in the third. NU didn’t score until Johnson led a 50 yard touchdown drive in the fourth, a drive where Johnson rushed for 31 yards and threw for none.

Stanford did most of its scoring in the first half before its starting quarterback, K.J. Costello, was knocked out of the game. The home team took a 10-0 lead into halftime, highlighted by a 15 play, 90 yard touchdown drive that took up the majority of the second quarter. Cardinal quarterback K.J. Costello finished the drive with a two yard touchdown pass to Michael Wilson, and Stanford added a field goal at the end of the half.

Takeaways

1. An up-and-down debut for Johnson

Johnson had the first three series under center, but he threw for three yards on four attempts. His first throw was an out route that sailed high over the head of Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman, and in his second series he threw an interception that tipped off wide receiver Berkeley Holman’s fingertips and to Stanford defender Andrew Pryts.

On NU’s third possession, the team ran the ball on every down. After the Cardinal scored on the following drive, coach Pat Fitzgerald turned the offense over to Green, who played until he got injured. But Johnson’s game turned around in the second half, even if his passing yardage didn’t radically improve. His draws and keepers led the team on its touchdown drive in early in the fourth quarter, but he couldn’t get anything going in the air to complete the comeback. Johnson finished with 55 yards passing.

2. And an unfortunate start to T.J. Green’s senior season

Green took advantage of the opportunity when he was in the game, driving the team 41 yards down the field before a turnover on downs with less than a minute left in the first half. The fifth-year former walk-on started the second half strong, bringing the team into the red zone before Stanford inside linebacker Curtis Robinson knocked the ball out of Green’s hands and Green out of the game.

Johnson played the rest of the way after Green was carted off, and Green finished with 62 yards on 6-10 passing. Throughout the offseason, reports said Green had a better grasp of the offense and looked the part of Saturday. On both possessions under center, the offense seemed to flow better under Green. However, with the injury, it remains to be seen what happens at quarterback moving forward.

3. Isaiah Bowser looked like the offense’s most valuable player

The sophomore started last season far down the depth chart, but Bowser followed up on his strong finish to the 2018 season by rushing for 54 yards on 10 carries. He had three rushes of ten or more yards, including two consecutive long runs that brought the Cats to the endzone in the first series of the third quarter before Green’s fumble.

But a hit later that quarter took him out of the game, and, after he fell, NU relied on backups Drake Anderson, Jesse Brown and John Moten. The trio combined for 16 rushing yards, and the Cats’ offense leaves significant questions heading into the team’s game against UNLV on September 14.

Twitter: @2021_charlie
Email: charliegoldsmith2021@u.northwestern.edu

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