Ugh. The offense pitched a strong effort in the first quarter before stalling to score again until the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the defense turned in a strong performance before allowing Purdue to drive down the field for a game-winning field goal. Northwestern falls to 1-8 (0-7 B1G). Here’s our weekly stock report:
44 possessions and seven turnovers later, Northwestern finally scored a touchdown. McGowan accelerated through a hole up the middle opened by Jared Thomas and found the end zone on a 79-yard run. McGowan turned into Northwestern’s primary running back throughout the game and played exceptionally well. He finished with 17 carries for 146 yards, but left the game in the fourth quarter due to injury.
The sophomore cornerback continued his emerging play with a solid game today. After picking up a few crucial tackles on the first possession, Ruiz picked off Aidan O’Connell on the second possession. He continued to play well throughout the rest of the game before making a spectacular PBU on a deep ball with roughly 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Though Ruiz committed a crucial penalty with a pass interference to lead Purdue into field-goal range, he was a large reason Northwestern was in the game until the end.
As abhorrent as Northwestern’s offensive performance was in the last three quarters, the first quarter was special. McGowan rushed for a touchdown on the opening offensive series, but Smith also played well. He started the game 6/7 for 69 yards including this touchdown to Jace James where he took a lick in the pocket.
It appeared Northwestern’s offense finally began to click, but after the team’s scripted plays, the offense was non-existent.
After failing to generate turnovers for a majority of the season, the defense came up with two key interceptions. The unit also forced a safety on Purdue QB Aidan O’Connell with an intentional-grounding in his own end zone. While Fitz and members of the defense have been notably critical of the defense’s lack of turnovers this season, the unit stepped up in a big way today.
Honorable Mentions: Trick plays, Andrew David’s running ability, run blocking, Aidan Smith, Jace James
On Purdue’s first offensive possession that resulted in a touchdown, Northwestern committed a pass interference in the end zone. After stopping Purdue on first and second down, Northwestern had a chance to hold Purdue to a field goal (or a fourth down attempt). JR Pace committed an unnecessary PI on third-and-goal and Purdue proceeded to score.
With one minute to go, Purdue faced fourth-and-four from NU’s 39 yard line. Pace intercepted the pass, but another PI negated the play. It was the second pass interference on the drive and the third penalty committed in the secondary.
While the defense generally performed well today, there were many missed tackles in the open field. Specifically on the perimeter, Northwestern’s secondary struggled to make key tackles. The performance was very similar to the tackling issues that plagued the unit against Stanford. At this point in the season, missed tackling should not be an issue. Just imagine if Rondale Moore played.
The Last Stand
With roughly 2:30 remaining in the game, Northwestern’s defense needed to prevent Purdue’s offense from scoring to win the game. Two pass interferences and a holding led Purdue into Northwestern territory and J.D. Dellinger hit a clutch 39-yard field goal to win the game. In the key moments of the game, the Boilermakers thoroughly outperformed NU.
Honorable mentions: Andrew David’s punting ability, third quarter passing defense, Charlie Kuhbander, crucial penalties, offensive consistency