For 15 minutes, it looked ugly. Northwestern was held scoreless in the first quarter Saturday night after two penalties, a missed field goal and an interception. Then, a team that lived and died by the run a year ago turned on the jets.
Behind the legs of Treyvon Green, Kain Colter and Mike Trumpy, the No. 17 Wildcats (3-0) beat Western Michigan (0-3) 38-17 at Ryan Field. NU combined for 332 yards on the ground, with 158 and two touchdowns from Treyvon Green, who continues his improbable comeback from a traumatic concussion last August.
“I’m incredibly happy for him, he’s a young man that’s overcome a lot of adversity,” Pat Fitzgerald said. “You love seeing great guys have success.”
After the sluggish start, the Wildcats began the second quarter with an interception of Broncos quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen at the hands of Ibraheim Campbell. The turnover marked Campbell’s fifth consecutive game with a pick, dating back to last November, and set up a seven-play, 57-yard drive capped by a Kain Colter touchdown plunge.
“I’ll try to keep that streak going as long as possible. I’m just doing my job,” Campbell laughed.
Western Michigan wasted no time responding, taking a 10-7 lead through a 75-yard connection from Van Tubbergen to wideout Corey Davis on the first play of the drive. Dwight White was left eating dust, but the Wildcats wouldn’t trail again for the rest of the game.
Northwestern’s subsequent three drives yielded 17 points, with touchdowns coming on a six-yard Christian Jones reception over the middle of the endzone and a four-yard scamper from Mike Trumpy. Jones lead all receivers with five catches for 60 yards, remaining productive after being shaken up on a collision with Western Michigan safety Justin Currie in the first quarter.
Up 24-10 at the break, the Wildcats would pad their lead with two second-half touchdown runs from Green. The latter came on a 42-yard burst that gave the junior back six total scores in three games.
“It’s been a little rocky,” he said of his recovery. “It was a tough road, but my teammates are like my family. They’ve always got my back.”
While the offense excelled, the Wildcat defense held steady for most of the night. Northwestern laid eight hits on Van Tubbergen, and despite struggles from White and Nick VanHoose, Western Michigan notched a modest 202 yards through the air. With the Broncos down 38-17 early in the fourth and driving through opposing territory, the Cats stuffed a fourth-and-two run to seal the victory.
Two true freshmen played for the Wildcats Saturday, with Matt Harris busting a 47-yard kickoff return to open the game and Warren Long tallying two carries in his first career action. Northwestern was again without Venric Mark, who is still listed as “day-to-day” with a lower body injury.
“We’re taking a long-term, smart approach,” Fitz said. “He’s improving every day, he’s getting impatient, wanting to play.”
The Cats continue a four-game home stand against Maine next Saturday at Ryan Field.