Rapid Recap: Northwestern 29, Illinois 10


Joshua Hoffman/The Daily Northwestern

Andrew Marty runs. The sophomore quarterback ran for two touchdowns in the Wildcats’ win Saturday.

Benjamin Rosenberg, Web Editor


CHAMPAIGN — Even in a lost season for Northwestern, the Wildcats can still say they held onto the Land of Lincoln Trophy.

NU (3-9, 1-8 Big Ten) ran wild against rival Illinois (6-6, 4-5), accumulating 378 yards on 65 rushing attempts in a 29-10 victory, giving the Cats five straight wins over the Fighting Illini for the first time in the history of the series.

Sophomore quarterback Andrew Marty was used much more as a runner than as a thrower. Marty carried 30 times for 111 yards and gave NU the lead in the second quarter with a 12-yard run over the left side.

The score came after Marty’s biggest mistake of the day. On the first play of the second period, Marty threw an interception on fourth down in plus territory, which the Fighting Illini turned into a go-ahead score.

But the Cats dominated for most of the second half. Marty’s best play of the game, a 34-yard pass right up the seam to junior receiver Riley Lees for a touchdown, gave NU a two-score lead. After an Illinois field goal, the Cats marched right back down the field, with a huge run by freshman Coco Azema run setting up a Marty quarterback sneak to make it a 13-point game.


1. Northwestern was determined to run the ball. The Cats ran 38 plays on the ground in the first half, compared to eight passes. For the most part, the approach was effective, as NU held the ball for just over 25 of the opening 30 minutes while outgaining Illinois 180-30. The carries were mostly split between Drake Anderson and Marty, with the quarterback rushing a whopping 17 times in the first half alone. Azema, previously a defensive back, burst onto the scene at running back with a 62-yard run late in the third quarter.

2. The Wildcats’ run defense was stellar. The Fighting Illini’s top running back, Reggie Corbin, was held to minus-10 yards on seven carries. Outside of an easy six-yard, second-quarter touchdown by Dre Brown, nobody else did much for the Illinois running game, either. Trent Goens had three tackles for loss, and Joe Gaziano and Paddy Fisher each had one. Including sacks, Illinois managed just 14 yards on the ground.

3. The worst season of the Pat Fitzgerald era is over. Despite winning their rivalry game, this was a year to forget for the Cats. Injuries, lack of discipline and an anemic offense plagued NU from the season-opener at Stanford all the way through November. Fitzgerald will have some major decisions to make in the offseason, starting with the coaching staff, and it’s anyone’s guess who the starting quarterback will be in 2020. A year after a surprising run to the Big Ten Championship Game, the Cats finished at the bottom of the West Division.

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