Once again, it was a quarterback other than Dan Persa under center for Northwestern. And just like last week, it was Kain Colter leading the Wildcats to a win.
Colter finished the game 10-13 for 104 yards through the air, and he carried the ball 15 times for 109 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-21 victory for Northwestern (2-0) over Eastern Illinois (1-1). Colter’s output on the ground was part of a larger 320-yard rushing effort by Northwestern as a whole.
Although Dan Persa dressed in uniform for the game, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald confirmed that Persa was not medically cleared to play.
With running back Mike Trumpy out of the game with a head injury, the Wildcats split carries between several backs. Freshman Treyvon Green led the way with 70 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, but Jacob Schmidt and Adonis Smith had 57 and 55 yards on the ground, respectively. Schmidt also added a touchdown, and Tyris Jones carried seven times for 21 yards.
Colter still has not passed for a touchdown this season, but Trevor Siemian threw the first Northwestern passing touchdown of the year in the fourth quarter. Siemian relieved Colter in the second half with the game safely in Northwestern’s hands.
Although the final score was emphatic, the Panthers kept the game close in the first half. The ‘Cats jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but a 72-yard Jimmy Garopollo touchdown pass cut the deficit in half. Northwestern responded with two more scores to end the half, making the score 28-7 at the break.
With the score well in hand midway through the second half, the Wildcats were able to play a number of backups and young players. Eastern Illinois was able to take advantage of the inexperience of Northwestern’s backups to score twice in the second half.
Northwestern starts its season 2-0 for the fifth straight year.
More coverage to follow.