Wildcats thrash Coyotes, ready for Big Ten home opener

By Nader Ihmoud

The University of South Dakota Coyotes couldn’t stop the Northwestern University Wildcats, resulting in a 38-7 defeat at Ryan Field Sept. 22.

The game got out of hand early, as Northwestern scored touchdowns on each of its first two drives and scored 28 points during the first half. Venric Mark, the Wildcats junior starting running back, led the way with three rushing touchdowns and a 100-yard rush heading into the second half.

“[Mark] is playing at a very high level right now,” said Wildcats Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald. “He’s got great speed and great vision, and the way he’s gone about his business here in the first four weeks has been outstanding. Now the heavy lifting starts with Big Ten play.”

Northwestern’s offensive line dominated all game, with three Wildcats scoring rushing touchdowns. One week after not being able to convert red zone appearances into touchdowns, Fitzpatrick’s team scored 6 points every time they got inside the Coyotes’ 20-yard line.

“We ran the ball more efficiently, and we were able to control the line of scrimmage, which obviously, if you could run the ball [in the red zone] it makes it a lot easier,” Fitzgerald said.

Each of the five touchdowns scored for the Wildcats was a rushing score, a season high for Northwestern.

Both Northwestern quarterbacks went down with injuries, but neither was seriously hurt. Both passers returned to the game shortly after being removed.

The win is Northwestern’s 13th-straight home victory against a nonconference opponent.

The Wildcats begin their Big Ten conference schedule at home when they take on the Indiana University Hoosiers Sept. 29. The last time these opponents played each other, the Wildcats defeated the Hoosiers 59-38 and gained more than 600 yards of offense. Kickoff is at 11 a.m.

“I thought we got better this week, and again, now the challenge gets a lot harder as we move forward,” Fitzgerald said.