Sam Maller | Staff PhotographerFootball
Strong play by Mark helps give Northwestern 21-13 lead over Syracuse at halftime
A 21-yard run up the middle by Jerome Smith kept another Syracuse drive rolling. With a six-point advantage, the Orange offense was threatening to tack on more points midway through the first half.
But on the next play, a pass to Marcus Sales was jarred loose and snared by Wildcats linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo, who returned it 49 yards down to the 21-yard line.
One play later, NU quarterback Kain Colter hit running back Venric Mark on a wheel route with SU linebacker Dan Vaughan trailing him into the left corner of the end zone. Syracuse’s six-point advantage was quickly a one-point deficit, and Northwestern had control.
The Wildcats expanded their lead to 21-13 after forcing an SU three-and-out followed by a 28-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass by Colter to wide receiver Christian Jones.
Syracuse opened the game with a golden opportunity after Northwestern botched a snap on a punt attempt on its first drive. The Orange took over at the 31-yard line and Ryan Nassib found Beckett Wales for 17 yards on a quick slant.
Three short runs stalled the drive and Ross Krautman came on for a 22-yard field goal to push SU ahead 3-0 early. The Orange moved into the red zone again on its next possession, but three straight incompletions by Nassib forced another field goal.
The SU defense contained Northwestern’s spread offense for much of the first quarter, but the Wildcats broke through with a touchdown on an 82-yard punt return by Mark.
SU responded on its first drive of the second quarter, which carried over from the opening period. The offense mixed up a variety of passes and runs to get downfield and Prince-Tyson Gulley capped it with a 15-yard run to push the Orange ahead 13-7.
The offense put together another drive highlighted by Smith’s 21-yard run, but the interception turned the momentum and Northwestern took control the rest of the half.
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