Rapid Recap: Minnesota 38, Northwestern 22

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Rapid Recap: Minnesota 38, Northwestern 22

Hunter Johnson is sacked by Antoine Winfield Jr. The sophomore quarterback was injured on the play and did not return.

Hunter Johnson is sacked by Antoine Winfield Jr. The sophomore quarterback was injured on the play and did not return.

Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Hunter Johnson is sacked by Antoine Winfield Jr. The sophomore quarterback was injured on the play and did not return.

Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Hunter Johnson is sacked by Antoine Winfield Jr. The sophomore quarterback was injured on the play and did not return.

Peter Warren, Print Managing Editor

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Football


Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.

Against Big Ten competition this year, Northwestern has been the bug. And Saturday at Ryan Field, that was the case once again.

No. 10 Minnesota scored 21 unanswered points to start the game and never looked back as the visiting Golden Gophers (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) defeated the Wildcats (2-9, 0-8) 38-22.

Sophomore Hunter Johnson started at quarterback, but he was sacked twice, knocked down once and tackled hard once on the first three possessions, which included two three-and-outs.

As the Cats offense flounded, Tanner Morgan and the boys picked apart the NU defense. The Golden Gophers’ first three drives ended in the end zone. First, Morgan found Rashod Bateman for a score. Then, Shannon Brooks scooted in from nine yards out for another. Then, Bateman displayed some nifty footwork when he kept his feet in bounds for the third score.

On the fourth NU possession, Johnson was pummeled once again, fumbling the ball when he was leveled by Antoine Winfield Jr. The Cats recovered the loose ball, but Johnson stayed down before limping off the field. Sophomore Andrew Marty replaced Johnson, who did not return.

In the second quarter, senior defensive end Joe Gaziano picked up his 28.5th career sack, which puts him atop the all-time career sacks leaderboard. The sack also resulted in a safety, giving NU its first points of the game.

With a short field following the safety, Marty drove the Cats offense down the field before sophomore receiver Jace James made an impressive catch in the end zone for a touchdown.

After halftime, Morgan once again found Bateman for a touchdown, this time in the back corner of the end zone. NU answered with a 2-yard run from Marty to bring the scoe back with two scores, but another Morgan touchdown pass — this time to Tyler Johnson — earlier in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach.

Takeaways

1. Quarterback continues to remain the most fascinating position. After not playing in three weeks, Johnson earned the start with junior Aidan Smith dealing with an injury. Johnson, who has had his own injury issues this season, was pounded throughout the first half and eventually hobbled off to the locker room. Marty came in to the game and played well, and while that was good to see, it will only raise more questions about the position battle going forward. After four years of consistent, solid play from Clayton Thorson, it was likely that there would be some inconsistency from the position. But it’s safe to say that few people expected the position to be erratic.

2. Joe Gaziano finally etched his name on top. It has been a tough season for the Cats, but through it all, Gaziano has been a bright spot for NU. On Saturday, he firmly placed himself in Cats lore as the all-time sacks leader. The play occurred in the second quarter. After a 67-yard bomb of a punt from Andrew David placed Minnesota inside its 10, Gaziano pressured Morgan and forced the gunslinger to throw the ball away. The refs ruled it a safety, and Gaziano, as the player who forced the throw, was awarded the sack. While it wasn’t the highlight-reel flattening he performed on Brian Lewerke for his first career sack four years ago, it marked a nice moment for the well-respected and well-liked senior.

3. Northwestern has had enough of the 2010s. The decade has been arguably the most successful decade in Cats history. Since 2010, NU has seven winning seasons, four bowl victories, a Big Ten West Division championship, hosted ESPN’s College Gameday and has sustained a decent level of national prominence. But 2019 has put a huge damper on all of that. This season is likely the worst Cats campaign of this century. The offense has been one of the worst in the country, the defense has been worn down over the course of 11 games and there has been a dearth of memorable moments.

Email: peterwarren2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @thepeterwarren

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