Drive Chart
NWEST
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Jackson, defense lead No. 23 Northwestern past Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) When Northwestern defensive end Samdup Miller stretched out his hands to push the football into Illinois' end zone in the third quarter Saturday night, fellow defensive end Joe Gaziano danced wildly across the field, fists pumping.

Gaziano's sack had just forced the ball out of Illinois quarterback Cam Thomas' hands. And, on a night when the crowd was quiet and small, the Wildcats' offense had been sluggish, Miller's score pushed No. 23 Northwestern to a 21-7 lead that even early in the third quarter felt like too much for the Illini to overcome.

It was, and the Wildcats (9-3, 7-2 Big Ten) went on to finish off Illinois, 42-7, winning their seventh straight.

''The strip-sack touchdown was huge,'' Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. ''In a sleepy building to get that kind of juice going, it was big. It was big. The sideline erupted.''

The bowl-bound Wildcats held Illinois scoreless after giving up a first-quarter touchdown, and put 42 straight points on the board. Justin Jackson ran for 144 yards and a touchdown.

With bowl season ahead, Fitzgerald turned quickly to what he said he believes is a negative narrative about the Wildcats that followed their early 41-17 loss to Duke.

''I would prefer if that narrative gets changed. This is one of the hottest teams in the country, a team that's dominated back to back weeks,'' he said. ''I think this is a pretty attractive team, I hope we get to field a lot of calls. I'll be disappointed if we don't.''

The Illini (2-10, 0-9) lost their 10th straight and finished winless in the Big Ten for the first time since 2012. Second-year coach Lovie Smith said that, given his team's youth, a difficult season was likely.

''You have to look at what we're talking about, 15, 16 (freshman starters). Were you expecting a national championship? Probably not,'' he said. ''We knew we had to rebuild our program, and that's what we've been doing. And that's what I think we will continue to do.''

Northwestern took the lead for good at 14-7 with 8:03 left in the second quarter on Jelani Roberts' 5-yard touchdown run.

When defensive end Joe Gaziano knocked the ball out of Illinois quarterback Cam Thomas' hands and fellow defensive end Samdup Miller scooped it up and punched the ball across the goal line for a third-quarter touchdown and a 21-7 lead, the game was out of reach.

Illinois opened up a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter on Thomas' 23-yard keeper. The lead was Illinois' first since the first quarter of its loss to Iowa on Oct. 7, six-plus games.

The Illini rolled up almost 30 percent of their 239 yards of offense on their opening, 69-yard drive.

Thomas, a freshman making his second start, finished 14-31 for 139 yards and two interceptions. He ran for 46 yards on 18 carries.

THE TAKEAWAY

Northwestern: A week after the Wildcats used 10 ball carriers in a blowout win over Minnesota, they let Jackson and Jeremy Larkin, who had 71 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, carry the load on Saturday. The two ground down a thin Illinois defense. The three turnovers forced by the Wildcats were big, too, leading to 14 points. Northwestern finishes second in the Big Ten West, behind undefeated Wisconsin.

Illinois: Season No. 2 of the Lovie Smith era came to an end with one fewer win than Illinois managed in its first season under the NFL veteran. On the final Saturday of their season, though, there were signs of life for the Illini. Thomas sparked the offense early and had 60 yards rushing at halftime (though he finished with less). And junior linebackers Tre Watson and Del'Shawn Phillips combined for 21 tackles. But the strain of a long season showed late in the game, when defensive tackle Tito Odenigbo threw a penalty flag back at an official following a Northwestern touchdown, and was ejected.

DEFENSIVE `CATS

Illinois and Thomas found room to run on their opening drive, but the Northwestern defense slowly closed the door the rest of the game, continuing a trend that started two games ago against Purdue. The Wildcats held the Boilermakers to just 13 points in that win, then shut out Minnesota before giving up just the single score against Illinois Saturday.

But early Saturday, watching Thomas run, the Wildcats defense was uneasy, said freshman linebacker Paddy Fisher, who finished with a team-high 10 tackles and an interception.

''(We) just tried to calm everyone down. Everyone was freaking out a little bit,'' he said.

YOUTH MOVEMENT

Senior day at Illinois served as one last reminder of just how young the Illini were this season. The Illini only had nine total seniors, and only five started - three on offense and two on defense. Those freshman starters had a major impact Saturday. Thomas was starting his second game at quarterback and was the engine behind the early scoring drive. And freshman safety Bennett Williams had an interception in the second quarter on the Illinois goal line, his third of the season.

UP NEXT

Northwestern: The Wildcats will wait to learn which bowl they will be playing in, the third straight year Northwestern has left the Illini game knowing a bowl game was ahead. The Wildcats ended last season with a 31-24 Pinstripe Bowl win over Pittsburgh.

Illinois: With just two wins, Illinois' season is over. The last bowl trip for the Illini was in 2014, a 35-18 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl.

---

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Scoring Summary
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 6:01
14-C.Kuhbander extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
42
7
Touchdown 6:01
36-J.Brown runs 18 yards for a touchdown.
7
plays
77
yds
04:31
pos
41
7
Point After TD 12:05
14-C.Kuhbander extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
35
7
Touchdown 12:05
28-J.Larkin runs 4 yards for a touchdown.
13
plays
46
yds
02:57
pos
34
7
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 8:47
14-C.Kuhbander extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
28
7
Touchdown 8:47
21-J.Jackson runs 1 yard for a touchdown.
2
plays
80
yds
00:17
pos
27
7
Point After TD 10:13
14-C.Kuhbander extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
21
7
Touchdown 10:24
10-C.Thomas sacked at ILL 3 for -6 yards FUMBLES (97-J.Gaziano). 91-S.Miller runs 3 yards for a touchdown.
0
plays
90
yds
0:14
pos
20
7
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 8:03
14-C.Kuhbander extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
14
7
Touchdown 8:03
6-J.Roberts runs 5 yards for a touchdown.
2
plays
57
yds
00:29
pos
13
7
Point After TD 10:35
14-C.Kuhbander extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
7
Touchdown 10:35
18-C.Thorson complete to 9-G.Dickerson. 9-G.Dickerson runs 11 yards for a touchdown.
6
plays
51
yds
01:59
pos
6
7
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 8:38
43-C.McLaughlin extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
0
7
Touchdown 8:38
10-C.Thomas runs 23 yards for a touchdown.
12
plays
102
yds
05:14
pos
0
6
Team Stats
1st Downs 22 11
Rushing 14 5
Passing 6 6
Penalty 2 0
3rd Down Conv 4-13 4-16
4th Down Conv 1-1 0-1
Total Net Yards 436 227
Total Plays 68 64
Avg Gain 6.4 3.5
Net Yards Rushing 306 100
Rush Attempts 47 33
Avg Rush Yards 6.5 3.0
Net Yards Passing 130 127
Comp. - Att. 13-21 14-31
Yards Per Pass 6.2 4.1
Sacked - Yards Lost 2-10 4-12
Penalties - Yards 3-30 6-59
Touchdowns 6 1
Rushing TDs 4 1
Passing TDs 1 0
Other 1 0
Turnovers 2 2
Fumbles - Lost 1-1 0-0
Int. Thrown 1 2
Punts - Avg 7-45.3 9-43.7
Return Yards 79 160
Punts - Returns 2-10 2-0
Kickoffs - Returns 0-0 7-145
Int. - Returns 2-69 1-15
Kicking 6/6 1/2
Extra Points 6/6 1/1
Field Goals 0/0 0/1
Safeties 0 0
1234T
22 Northwestern 9-3 014141442
Illinois 2-10 70007
130 PASS YDS 127
306 RUSH YDS 100
436 TOTAL YDS 227
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
C. Thorson 18 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
61.9% 140 1 1 124.1
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
60.6% 2809 15 12 121.9
C. Thorson 13/21 140 1 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
J. Jackson 21 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
18 144 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
255 1154 9
J. Jackson 18 144 1 79
J. Larkin 28 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
9 71 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
75 391 5
J. Larkin 9 71 1 29
Je. Brown 36 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 27 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
9 64 2
Je. Brown 2 27 1 18
J. Roberts 6 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 19 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
8 85 2
J. Roberts 2 19 1 14
J. Moten IV 20 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 19 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
17 55 0
J. Moten IV 2 19 0 12
A. Anderson 8 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
3 12 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
6 23 0
A. Anderson 3 12 0 7
C. Acker 25 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
3 12 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
4 36 1
C. Acker 3 12 0 7
T. Lancaster 1 DL
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 5 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
2 5 0
T. Lancaster 2 5 0 4
C. Thorson 18 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
5 -1 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
85 29 8
C. Thorson 5 -1 0 12
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
B. Skowronek 88 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 52 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
42 619 5
B. Skowronek 1 52 0 52
G. Dickerson 9 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 32 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
37 401 4
G. Dickerson 3 32 1 12
F. Nagel 2 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 32 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
47 483 2
F. Nagel 5 32 0 12
J. Jackson 21 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 13 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
43 266 0
J. Jackson 3 13 0 8
J. Larkin 28 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 11 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
11 115 0
J. Larkin 1 11 0 11
R. Lees 19 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
18 235 2
R. Lees 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
P. Fisher 42 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
8-1 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
8-1 1 0.0
P. Fisher 8-1 0.0 1
J. Gaziano 97 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 1.0
J. Gaziano 4-0 1.0 0
M. Hartage 24 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 2 0.0
M. Hartage 3-0 0.0 0
G. Igwebuike 16 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 2 0.0
G. Igwebuike 3-0 0.0 0
B. Walsh 10 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
B. Walsh 3-0 0.0 0
A. Miller 95 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
A. Miller 3-0 0.0 0
N. Hall 32 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-2 0 1.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-2 2 1.5
N. Hall 2-2 1.5 0
J. Thompson 99 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.5
J. Thompson 2-1 0.5 0
C. Bergin 49 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
C. Bergin 2-0 0.0 0
T. Carnifax 94 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
T. Carnifax 1-0 0.0 0
M. McShepard 7 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 1 0.0
M. McShepard 1-0 0.0 0
F. Wyatt 92 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
F. Wyatt 1-0 0.0 0
T. Lancaster 1 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-2 0 0.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-2 0 0.5
T. Lancaster 1-2 0.5 0
J. McGee 41 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
J. McGee 1-0 0.0 0
S. Miller 91 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 0.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 0.5
S. Miller 1-1 0.5 0
B. Gallagher 51 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
B. Gallagher 1-0 0.0 0
J. Pace 4 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 2 0.0
J. Pace 1-0 0.0 0
W. Long 13 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
W. Long 0-1 0.0 0
T. Williams 29 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-0 1 0.0
T. Williams 0-0 0.0 1
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
C. Kuhbander 14 K
IN-GAME FG XP
0/0 6/6
SEASON FG XP
12/14 40/41
C. Kuhbander 0/0 0 6/6 6
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
H. Niswander 96 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
7 45.3 3
SEASON NO AVG IN20
64 42.6 3
H. Niswander 7 45.3 3 61
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
R. Lees 19 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 5.0 10 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
8 9.8 10 0
R. Lees 2 5.0 10 0
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
C. Thomas 10 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
45.2% 139 0 2 69.9
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
42.4% 375 0 5 75.0
C. Thomas 14/31 139 0 2
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
D. Brown 25 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
12 51 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
31 138 0
D. Brown 12 51 0 18
C. Thomas 10 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
18 46 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
52 233 1
C. Thomas 18 46 1 23
K. Foster 22 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 4 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
73 266 1
K. Foster 2 4 0 4
C. Bobak 29 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 -1 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
1 -1 0
C. Bobak 1 -1 0 -1
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
L. Dorsey 19 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 63 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
22 395 3
L. Dorsey 4 63 0 20
M. Turner 11 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 37 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
31 326 0
M. Turner 4 37 0 13
R. Smalling 4 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 15 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
31 510 2
R. Smalling 2 15 0 11
C. Reams 13 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 14 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
4 32 1
C. Reams 2 14 0 8
D. Brown 25 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 8 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 8 0
D. Brown 1 8 0 8
R. Corbin 2 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 2 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
9 27 0
R. Corbin 1 2 0 2
B. Walker 83 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 7 0
B. Walker 0 0 0 0
C. Green 5 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
8 75 0
C. Green 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
T. Watson 33 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
9-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
9-1 1 0.0
T. Watson 9-1 0.0 0
D. Phillips 3 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
8-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
8-1 0 0.0
D. Phillips 8-1 0.0 0
B. Williams 4 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
7-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
7-0 3 0.0
B. Williams 7-0 0.0 1
P. Nelson 21 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
P. Nelson 5-0 0.0 0
N. Hobbs 8 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
N. Hobbs 3-0 0.0 0
J. Dunlap 1 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 1 0.0
J. Dunlap 2-1 0.0 0
C. James 12 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
C. James 2-1 0.0 0
J. Woods 91 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
J. Woods 2-0 0.0 0
O. Carney Jr. 99 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
O. Carney Jr. 2-0 0.0 0
S. Adesanya 47 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
S. Adesanya 1-0 0.0 0
J. Crawford 5 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
J. Crawford 1-0 0.0 0
J. Williams 32 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
J. Williams 1-0 0.0 0
T. Oliver 96 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.5
T. Oliver 1-0 0.5 0
A. Shogbonyo 52 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
A. Shogbonyo 1-0 0.0 0
B. Roundtree 97 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-5 0 1.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-5 0 1.5
B. Roundtree 1-5 1.5 0
J. Marchese 41 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
J. Marchese 1-0 0.0 0
C. Abercrombie 34 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
C. Abercrombie 1-0 0.0 0
D. DeGroot 24 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
D. DeGroot 0-1 0.0 0
K. Jackson 95 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
K. Jackson 0-1 0.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
C. McLaughlin 43 K
IN-GAME FG XP
0/1 1/1
SEASON FG XP
12/17 17/17
C. McLaughlin 0/1 0 1/1 1
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
B. Hayes 14 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
9 43.7 3
SEASON NO AVG IN20
77 42.0 3
B. Hayes 9 43.7 3 52
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
D. Brown 25 RB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
4 31.3 50 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
6 27.8 50 0
D. Brown 4 31.3 50 0
A. Roberts 36 RB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 5.0 5 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
1 5.0 5 0
A. Roberts 1 5.0 5 0
B. Walker 83 TE
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 5.0 5 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
1 5.0 5 0
B. Walker 1 5.0 5 0
C. Bobak 29 RB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 10.0 10 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
1 10.0 10 0
C. Bobak 1 10.0 10 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
N. Hobbs 8 DB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 0.0 0 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
4 1.3 0 0
N. Hobbs 2 0.0 0 0
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 NWEST 25 0:59 3 6 Punt
8:38 NWEST 25 5:17 14 66 INT
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
1:16 NWEST 33 0:32 3 7 Punt
12:34 NWEST 49 1:59 6 51 TD
8:32 NWEST 43 0:29 2 57 TD
7:03 NWEST 11 1:35 3 2 Punt
3:19 NWEST 24 1:05 4 22 Punt
0:44 NWEST 3 0:11 2 8 Halftime
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
12:01 NWEST 35 0:48 3 8 Punt
9:04 NWEST 20 0:17 2 80 TD
6:39 NWEST 11 2:16 5 33 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
3:12 ILL 31 2:57 13 31 TD
10:32 NWEST 23 4:31 7 77 TD
5:08 NWEST 28 2:17 3 8 Punt
1:09 ILL 13 0:33 2 5 Game
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:52 ILL 31 5:14 12 69 TD
3:13 ILL 16 1:51 3 5 Punt
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:18 ILL 8 1:35 4 6 Punt
10:28 ILL 49 1:51 4 9 Downs
7:55 NWEST 49 0:44 3 -8 Punt
5:18 ILL 26 1:51 3 8 Punt
2:06 ILL 20 1:14 4 28 Punt
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:57 ILL 33 2:51 7 33 FG Miss
11:05 ILL 10 0:41 3 90 TD
10:09 ILL 36 0:52 3 2 Punt
8:40 ILL 28 1:52 4 18 Punt
4:15 ILL 18 0:57 4 51 INT
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:59 ILL 28 1:20 4 6 Punt
5:56 ILL 41 0:41 3 0 Punt
2:44 ILL 37 1:22 4 50 INT