Football: Andrew Marty’s return heralds another Northwestern quarterback competition after blowout loss to Minnesota


Kelsey Carroll/The Daily Northwestern

Andrew Marty drops back to pass. The senior quarterback threw for both of Northwestern’s touchdowns in its 41-14 loss to Minnesota.

Patrick Andres, Senior Staffer


Just when Northwestern thought it was out of quarterback no man’s land, senior Andrew Marty pulled the Wildcats back in.

With NU in the Minnesota red zone in the opening moments of the second quarter, Marty relieved sophomore Ryan Hilinski. He immediately ripped off a nine-yard run that moved the Cats to the Golden Gophers’ 10-yard line, and four plays later found sophomore running back Evan Hull out of the backfield for NU’s first touchdown.

Marty’s first playing time since hurting his throwing shoulder against Duke couldn’t save the Cats in a 41-14 loss, but the Cincinnati native’s play reinvigorated a battle at the quarterback position that had lay dormant for weeks.

“He gave us a pretty good spark,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “A quarterback’s… gotta be able to move the ball down the field and score points. Number two, he’s gotta be able to make some throws and make some plays when things go off script. I thought Andrew did a few of those things pretty well today.”

Minnesota held NU’s passing attack in check all afternoon, with the Cats’ 98 yards through the air representing their lowest total since they threw for 82 yards on December 12, 2020 against Illinois. Marty provided 93, completing 10 of his 16 attempts and registering both of the Cats’ touchdowns. Hilinski’s only completion in six attempts — a strike that junior wide receiver Malik Washington fumbled and Golden Gophers cornerback Justin Walley converted into a touchdown — supplied the other five yards.

“(Andrew) just hasn’t played a lot of ball and we gotta help him a little bit more,” Fitzgerald said. “We had more drops in the second half than I think we’ve had in a long time. Those were opportunities for first downs and to be able to sustain drives.”

When he wasn’t passing or handing off to Hull — whose 107 rushing yards accounted for nearly half of NU’s 241 total yards — Marty flexed his calling card: a dangerous running ability. He picked up 28 yards on seven carries, giving him 72 in two games in 2021. Hilinski’s career high in rushing yards is 15, set on October 16 against Rutgers.

“[He brings] the ability to run the ball, his ability to keep it and to make something happen on the ground and on his feet,” Hull said. “He did a really good job there.”

Hilinski took the reins after Walley’s touchdown staked Minnesota to a 13-0 lead. After handing off to Hull for a three-yard gain, his second pass attempt to Washington was incomplete. Gophers defensive lineman Boye Mafe then burst through the line and strong-armed Hilinski to the ground on third and seven, forcing the Cats to punt.

Hull churned out gains of 30, three, four and seven yards to start NU’s next drive, followed by a Hilinski incompletion intended for sophomore wide receiver Genson Hooper Price. Senior wide receiver JJ Jefferson gained 12 yards on an end run to bring the Cats inside the 20. On the next play, Marty added his name to the stat sheet for the first time since his 151-yard passing outing against the Blue Devils.

“Andrew was really close [to playing] a week ago,” Fitzgerald said. “We had a little bit of a package for him. It just didn’t materialize the way the game went. We added a little more this week, and we’ll see how things go in the future.”

Hilinski returned for one more series, misfiring on three straight passes to senior wide receiver Berkeley Holman, graduate tight end Trey Pugh, and Washington. The rest of the day was Marty’s. Despite the offense’s collective struggles, he found Holman from 17 yards out for NU’s second score midway through the fourth quarter.

“It’s kind of what I expect at this point, to go in and be a spark,” Marty said. “It was great, you could feel the energy, and I just wish I could’ve done it a couple more times earlier on.”

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Twitter: @pandres2001

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