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September 14, 2013

NU overcomes shaky start to lead WMU at half

EVANSTON-Maybe it was a Friday the 13th hangover. Maybe they didn't get their nap time.

Whatever it was, the Northwestern Wildcats sleepwalked through the first quarter and trailed 3-0 before waking up to score 24 points in the second to go into halftime with a 24-10 lead over Western Michigan.

The Broncos (0-2) drew first blood on a 37-yard Andrew Haldeman field goal with 2:37 left in the first quarter. Northwestern's nightmare of a first period, meanwhile, included 61 total yards and as many completions as interceptions (one), as the Wildcats time and again shot themselves in the foot and squandered excellent field position. Even the normally automatic Jeff Budzien had a rough time early in the game. He missed a 42-yarder with 7:49 to go in the first quarter, his first miss since last year's Nebraska game.

A tip-toeing sideline interception in the second quarter by Ibraheim Campbell at the NU 43-yard line seemed to incite the slumbering Cats. Campbell has now picked off a pass in five consecutive games, dating to last season, and it was Northwestern's eighth INT of the season.

The Wildcats scored seven plays later on a Kain Colter four-yard run to give the Cats a 7-3 lead. Six of Northwestern's plays were runs, and they were aided by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Cleveland Smith.

Western Michigan struck back on the very next play from scrimmage, however, when Tyler Van Tubbergen hit a wide-open Corey Davis for a 75-yard touchdown down the left sideline. Davis got a couple steps on Dwight White and scored easily.

Northwestern, though, had its feet squarely under them at that point and the offense that sputtered through the first 15 minutes scored on its next four possessions to take a 14-point halftime lead. Colter hit Christian Jones for a six-yard TD, Mike Trumpy scored on a four-yard run, and Budzien atoned for his earlier miss by hitting a 35-yard field goal with 49 seconds left in the half to close the scoring.

Colter led the ground attack with 77 yards on 10 carries. He was 4-of-5 passing for 21 yards and an interception. Trevor Siemian finished the half 5-of-10 through the air for 66 yards.

Northwestern's ground-heavy attack racked up 181 yards on 32 carries, compared to just 87 yards on 15 attempts through the air.

Game Facts

Matchup: No. 17 Northwestern (2-0) vs. Western Michigan (0-2)

Time: 8 p.m. CT

Place: Ryan Field, Evanston, Ill. (cap. 47,130)

TV: BTN, BTN2Go.com

Radio: WMVP-ESPN 1000, WNUR Sports Online

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