On a day when the Northwestern offense accumulated more than 500 yards on offense, it was kicker Jeff Budzien who provided the Wildcats with the offense needed for a 22-13 victory over Boston College in front of 32,597 fans at Ryan Field.
The Wildcats won its third consecutive game to begin the season and did it against a Eaglesteam coming off a victory in its previous contest. Northwestern was able to hold Boston College to a season-low 13 points this afternoon.
“I think our defense is working diligently to improve,” said head coach Pat Fitzgerald after the game. “Obviously, the way we performed against the rush today against a physical football team was a huge positive. We can still find a couple things we need to work on, like being a little more disciplined in underneath coverage pass-wise. But for the most part we responded very well to everything we thought we’d see, outside out of the one drive in the first half where we didn’t respond very well.”
Northwestern began the contest with a 12 play 52-yard drive which culminated with the first of five goals by Budzien. Budzien tied a school record with five made field goals for the Wildcats and his help didn’t go unnoticed.
As the Wildcats did a great job of moving the ball down field, it was the red zone where the team struggled on Saturday. Northwestern continued to employ its two quarterback system of Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian and it worked as both players completed a combined 30 passes for 293 yards passing against Boston College.
However, Colter and Siemian fumbled on key possessions against the Golden Eagles. Siemian fumbled on a mishandled snap on fourth down in the red zone. Siemain failed to make a smooth exchange and dropped the ball on Boston College’s five-yard line.
The turnover led to the Eagles only touchdown drive of the afternoon. Boston College was able to move downfield due to numerous penalties by the Wildcats defense.
Other than that drive, Northwestern did a phenomenal job of containing a Boston College offense that has averaged over 30 points in its previous two games. The Wildcats held the Eagles to 25 yards rushing, a week after holding Vanderbilt to 101 yards rushing.
While the Wildcats held off Boston College’s run game, Northwestern had a great day on the ground as they rushed for 293 yards. Mike Trumpy, who missed most of last season after tearing his ACL, rushed for 107 yards and added a 27-yard touchdown run late in the 4th quarter to seal the victory for Northwestern.
“I’m really happy and proud for Mike Trumpy,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s been a long road back for Michael. He’s a tremendous young man from a great family. A Chicago kid, having a great time playing for Chicago’s Big Ten Team. I’m really proud of him stepping up, Venric got a little banged up in the game so then it was Mike’s turn to pick up the flag and go.”
Venric Mark was said to have been hurt when he fumbled in the third quarter. The fumble was recovered by Northwestern center Brandon Vitable which led to Budzien’s fifth field goal of the game. Mark finished the game with 77 yards rushing on 18 attempts.
Budzien, who will more than likely be named Big Ten Special Teams player of the week on Monday, said he typically works on field goal repetitions during practice and gave credit to his long snapper, holder and the offensive line.
“It’s great to tie a record like that in a win,” Budzien said. “It wouldn’t feel that great if we lost that game. What I’m most fortunate for is that we have a snapper Pat Hickey, holder Brandon Williams and eight guys blocking upfront that do a great job and take pride in what they are doing. It’s an 11-man operation and I’m just one of the eleven. They deserve more credit than me because they take pride in their roles. They might not be the glory roles, but they’re doing a great job. They deserve a lot of credit.”
With the victory, the Wildcats began a season 3-0 for the third time over the past five seasons. Northwestern has done so by facing three opponents from BCS conferences, something that Fitzgerald reminded the media of on Saturday.
“I think we’ve got a hungry team, they’ve got a look in their eyes right now and they’re embracing improvement,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re in no way, shape or form where we want to be yet but mission accomplished, we’ve gone 1-0 three times so far, so hopefully we’ll continue to keep getting better.”
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