Football: Peyton Ramsey leads Northwestern to victory despite not playing his best


(Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer)

Peyton Ramsey scrambles down the field. The graduate transfer finished with 187 total yards on the day.

Peter Warren, Gameday Editor


Late in the second quarter of Saturday’s matchup against Nebraska, graduate quarterback Peyton Ramsey and the Northwestern offense looked more shaken than a baby’s rattle. After throwing his second interception of the day just a few minutes prior, Ramsey was looking to quickly take the Wildcats down the field and get some points before halftime.

It didn’t happen. Ramsey dropped back to pass on a 2nd-and-1 play and was blasted by Cornhuskers linebacker Luke Reimer, the force of the hit knocking the ball out of Ramsey’s hands. The quarterback recovered his fumble, but the momentum was lost.

For most of the first half, it was that type of day for Ramsey. But he didn’t wilt or fade. He responded like a confident veteran, and it resulted in NU picking up its third straight win of the season.

“Not my best for sure,” Ramsey said. “I can be better, I know I can.”

Both of Ramsey’s interceptions came from underthrown footballs. On the first, he tried hitting Riley Lees on a deep route over the middle of the field. The ball was a few feet short, bouncing off the white helmet of Nebraska’s Marquel Dismuke up into the air, allowing Myles Farmer plenty of time to grab the interception.

Farmer bested Ramsey on the second interception too, jumping an out route and taking the ball to the NU three-yard line, which set up the Cornhuskers’ only touchdown and lead of the game.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald said Ramsey’s had a couple of plays this week and last week against Iowa that have left him wondering how his quarterback will bounce back.

“His response is consistent in the same mindset each time: ‘I’m fine, let’s go,’” Fitzgerald said. “That’s what you want out of your quarterback. That’s what you want out of your offensive leader.”

Out of halftime, Ramsey went on the attack. He had a couple of medium-yardage passes to senior wide receiver Kyric McGowan and sophomore wide receiver Malik Washington before an impressive 16-yard scramble set up NU inside the five-yard line. Two plays later, he floated a pass perfectly in the direction of graduate tight end John Raine to put the Cats up 14-13.

After a big kick return from senior wide receiver Riley Lees early in the fourth quarter, Ramsey took control of the NU offense. He started the drive by getting redshirt freshman running back Evan Hull involved on a 23-yard pass play and ended it by finding Lees across the middle for a touchdown.

Ramsey finished the game with 169 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 16 of 27 passes. He also added 28 yards on the ground and was 6-for-10 for 75 yards on third down.

Last season, poor play from the quarterback position reverberated around the team like a pebble being dropped tossed into Lake Michigan. Two first-half interceptions leading to 10 points would have been the beginning of the end in any Big Ten matchup.

That’s not the case this year. Despite having less than a year of time with this group, Ramsey has earned the entire trust of the Cats. Even when he’s not at his best, the team believes it can still win.

And his response on a beautiful day at Ryan Field illustrates that.

“He is 1-0 three times,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s all that matters. The hallmark of a good quarterback is (to) lead your team to victory, and he’s done that every time now.”

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