Northwestern tops mistake-prone Gophers
Mark rushes for career-high 182 yards
MINNEAPOLIS — Venric Mark rushed for two touchdowns and a career-high 182 yards – including 151 on 11 carries in the first half – as the Wildcats hung on to defeat the Gophers in rainy Minneapolis.
Quarterback Kain Colter added a 2-yard touchdown rush for Northwestern (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten), which led 7-0 two plays into the game. After Northwestern’s C.J. Bryant recovered Lamonte Edwards’ fumble on the opening kickoff, Mark took an inside handoff and ran into the end zone untouched from 26 yards out.
Mark’s second touchdown – a 48-yarder – came early in the second quarter when he raced through another huge hole and down the left hash marks to give the Wildcats a 21-10 lead entering halftime. Mark also had a 47-yard run and a pair of 25-yarders in the first half.
Trailing 21-13, the Gophers (4-2, 0-2) drove to the Northwestern 4-yard line, but turned it over on downs with 2:23 remaining after Max Shortell overthrew Andre McDonald in the end zone. Minnesota got the ball back at the 50-yard line with 1:17 left, but Shortell was sacked and fumbled with 36 seconds remaining.
Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray returned after missing two games with ankle and knee injuries, but left in the third quarter after re-aggravating his ankle ailment. Gray, a former wide receiver, caught a 16-yard pass on the Gophers’ first drive before taking over at quarterback from Shortell.
Gray rushed for 86 yards on eight carries, including a 25-yard touchdown to trim Northwestern’s lead to 14-10 in the second quarter, and completed 7 of 11 passes for 66 yards and an interception. Shortell was 9-of-19 for 103 yards.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who has a history of seizures, suffered one moments after delivering his postgame press conference. Kill was taken to a hospital, where he was alert and resting comfortably. … Northwestern, which defeated Minnesota for the fifth time in the last six meetings, became bowl-eligible for the fifth-straight season and sixth time in seven years under coach Pat Fitzgerald. … The road team has won four of the last five meetings. … The Wildcats converted their only trip to the red zone into a touchdown and are 27-for-29 in such situations this season, including 17 touchdowns.