Wildcats Improve to 8-3, Return Home for Season Finale.

By Nader Ihmoud

EAST LANSING, Mich.- The Northwestern University Wildcats defeated the Michigan State University Spartans 23-20, despite being without Kain Colter and Venric Mark for a large portion of the game on at Spartan Stadium on Nov. 17.

The Wildcats’ defense forced four turnovers, did not allow the Spartans to convert on any fourth downs and held them to three scores on six red zone appearances.

“Our defense had their backs against the wall a couple times,” Wildcats’ Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When [you win the turnover battle] that’s a big, big catalyst to win a football game.”

The Spartans’ quarterback Andrew Maxwell lost a fumble on the goal line in the first quarter. Then late in the second quarter Michigan State failed to convert on a fourth down and goal.

“We lost 12 points in the first half due to mistakes and turnovers,” Spartans’ Head Coach Mark Dantonio said.

During the second half, Maxwell threw two interceptions. One of the them was returned 43 yards by linebacker David Nwabuisi for the games’ first touchdown.

With the loss, the Spartans need to earn a victory against the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers on Nov. 24 to become bowl eligible.

Although Northwestern’s defense gave up two touchdowns after the pick-six, their offense responded well enough to keep the Spartans on the losing end. Following each Spartans touchdown, the Wildcats responded with a score of their own.

Backup quarterback Trevor Siemian and superback Dan Vitale stepped up in late moments to help alleviate the pressure of not having Mark or Colter in the game down the stretch.

Siemian completed two passes that set up a Wildcat touchdown and a 20-13 lead.

After the Wildcats allowed the Spartans to tie the game again,Vitale caught a 41-yard catch from Siemian that set up the game winning field goal. Vitile ended the game with a career high nine catches for 110 yards.

“[My role] changes from week to week but I think I’m starting to prove myself,” he said.

After last weeks collapse against the University of Michigan Wolverines, Nwabuisi and his teammates were relieved to hold on against the Spartans.

This victory is the first for the Northwestern against Michigan State, since 2007.

The Wildcats return to Ryan Field to take on their rival the University of Illinois Fighting Illi.