The Owls were thinking possible bowl bid heading into Saturday’s game versus Northwestern inEvanston, Ill. Mathematically, at 3-6, they had a chance if they could win at Ryan Field with two more to play, at home against Tulane and on the road againstSMU. But, on the field, the math didn’t quite work out as the Owls had hoped.
Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats found rhythm early while preventing the Owls from finding theirs. Owls’ senior offensive lineman, Jake Hicks, sums up the 28-6 loss and what it meant for him and the rest of his teammates.
“This weekend was different from any other weekend because it was like losing two games. We lost the game at Northwestern, but we also lost the chance to play another one, and when you have a finite amount of games left, that hurts to have that one taken away.”
LESS WASN’T MORE
The week before against UTEP, the Owls flew with the Eagles posting 671 yards of offense with a senior quarterback in Nick Fanuzzi who celebrated a career day with 405 yards passing and three touchdowns. However, against Northwestern, the Owls could only put 254 yards of total offense in the stat column as compared to 533 for the Wildcats.
Could the Owls be considered a streaky team? That’s a fair question and one that Head Football Coach David Bailiff answered as honestly as possible.
“I wish I could explain it. We try not to be streaky. That was one thing, we couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm Saturday and when we got some drives, we never came up with any big plays to finish it off. Then you look at the fourth quarter and you have two, three-and-outs.”
“That is one thing we knew going in there. We knew we had to stay on track. We had to move the chains and if you were not going to get the big play, you still had to establish drives and get points.”
Fanuzzi was 13-of-25 for 92 yards and one interception.Senior running back Tyler Smith led all rushers with 84 yards and the lone touchdown on 21 carries. Sophomore RB Turner Petersenfinished with 5 carries for 19 yards.
Leading receiver for the Owls was sophomore Andre Gautreaux who caught 2 for 52 yards.
Sophomore PK Chris Boswell attempted a school record 60-yard field goal in the first half that hit the crossbar and bounced back.
CATS RAN WILD
While the Owls couldn’t get the ball to their playmakers, the Cats did early and often to the tune of 533 yards of total offense. It all started for them in the first quarter. Senior quarterback Dan Persa connected with senior wide receiver Jeremy Ebert on a drag route underneath the defense that he would turn into a 90-yard scoring play to give his team a 7-0 lead.
Persa would throw for three more scores, two of those in the second quarter. Jeremy Ebert and Demetrius Fields would score on grabs of 15 and 17 yards respectively. Backup QB, WR/RB, Kain Colter would add the finishing touches with a 3-yard TD pass from Persa in the 4th quarter.
Colter led the ‘Cats with 39 yards rushing on 9 carries. Meanwhile, Persa would finish 25-of-32 for 372 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Senior TE Drake Dunsmore was on the end of seven Persa-passes for 59 yards and displayed the athleticism that affirms why he is a Mackey Award Semifinalist.