Rapid Reaction: Illinois State shocks Northwestern in low-scoring upset
Things just got worse for Northwestern.
After losing their opening game against the MAC’s Western Michigan, the Wildcats managed to hit a new low by losing on a last-second field goal at home to FCS team Illinois State, 9-7.
Redbirds quarterback Jake Kolbe threw for 287 yards and the Illinois State offense did just enough to hold off NU, who falls to 0-2 on the season.
The Cats opted to lean on sophomore quarterback Clayton Thorson offensively, as Thorson threw a career-high 41 times while junior running back Justin Jackson got just 11 carries before exiting the game in the fourth quarter. But the offense never truly got into gear, giving the Redbirds a chance to pull the upset.
Meanwhile, NU’s defense gave up 369 yards to the Redbirds but came up with some timely big plays to keep the game within reach throughout, including an interception in the end zone by sophomore cornerback Montre Hartage in the second quarter and another pick by sophomore safety Jared McGee in the third.
The first half was a struggle for both teams, but after taking over with 5:49 left in the second quarter, the Redbirds marched down the field in 11 plays and punctuated the drive with a six-yard touchdown run from running back George Moreira late in the half, breaking the deadlock and giving Illinois State a 6-0 lead at halftime.
The second half looked a lot like the first for NU, until a 12-play, 55-yard drive by the Cats ended with a fourth-down touchdown throw from Thorson to senior receiver Austin Carr that ended up deciding the game. After senior kicker Jack Mitchell hit the extra point, NU took a one point lead that it wouldn’t relinquish until the game-ending kick.
Northwestern stats to know
- Clayton Thorson: 17-for-41 with 191 yards and one touchdown
- Justin Jackson: 11 carries for 39 yards, did not play for much of the fourth quarter
- Austin Carr: Career-high seven catches for 73 yards
- Montre Hartage: Nine tackles and one interception
Illinois State stats to know
- Jake Kolbe: 30-for-41 with 287 passing yards
- Anthony Warrum: Nine catches for 116 yards
- Christian Gibbs: Six catches for 71 yards
- George Moreira: 12 carries for 57 yards