EVANSTON, Ill. — It was as if Kain Colter and Brandon Reddish were stuck together by Elmer’s glue.
Neither budged. Neither mustered up extra juice as the Northwestern quarterback and Syracuse cornerback fused into one blob less than six inches away from the goal line.
But Colter improvised and outwitted the Syracuse defense, as he did all game. He simply stuck the ball past Reddish’s left ear and into the end zone. Touchdown, Northwestern.
The Wildcat offense toyed with and out-crafted the Orange defense all night, propelling No. 19 Northwestern (2-0) to a 48-27 win over Syracuse (0-2) at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill., on Saturday in front of 38,033. Colter and Trevor Siemian provided a dynamic one-two quarterback punch that the Orange defense couldn’t handle. Even playing without running back Venric Mark, the Wildcats athletes torched SU all night long.
“Just a tough night,” Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley said.
That brilliant goal-line maneuver by Colter upped Northwestern’s lead to 27-7 with 2:38 left in the first half. After scrambling more than 15 yards and weaving through Syracuse defenders like they were stuck in sand, Colter simply did what he had to do to score.
He made the right play. Just like he did all night, and just like his entire team did.
Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said the one thing Syracuse couldn’t afford to do was give Northwestern opportunities.
“And we damn well did,” he said.
The beatdown started in the first 51 seconds of the game. Four plays, four completions. Two catches, a facemask penalty and two more catches. All in less than a minute.
And the bleeding didn’t stop there. Siemian came in and bumped the lead to 17-0 just 2:22 into the second quarter. After throwing three passes in a row to Tony Jones for 47 total yards, Siemian delivered a 20-yard strike to Dan Vitale for a touchdown. The rout was on, and it was just beginning.
Anyone who tried to contain Jones failed miserably. Keon Lyn and Reddish both slotted up against him, and both got burned. Jones finished with nine receptions for 185 yards and a touchdown.
A week after Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson laid down a beating on the Syracuse defense, Jones followed suit.
And on the rare instance that the defense had Jones locked up downfield, Colter made plays with his feet.
With Northwestern leading 20-7, SU linebackers Dyshawn Davis and Cameron Lynch pursued Colter in the backfield. A sack seemed inevitable, but Colter escaped once again.
He danced his way through the defense for a 33-yard gain before Bromley eventually wrapped him up.
“He’s as advertised,” Bromley said. “He’s a mobile quarterback. He’s elusive, and he’s a hard guy to tackle.”
And then there was Siemian – the more polished thrower of the two. His touchdown pass to Christian Jones with two seconds left in the first half essentially iced the game.
There was no way Syracuse was coming back from a 34-7 halftime deficit — not the way Colter and Siemian were playing. Not the way the Syracuse defense was visibly exhausted in the second quarter.
Syracuse’s secondary looked winded. The Orange had taken a good, old-fashioned whooping.
“Everyone’s going to point at the quarterback position,” Shafer said, “but goddamn it, it was both sides of the ball.”
NU’s numbers speak for themselves: 270 passing yards, 6-for-6 in the red zone, 22-of-24 passes completed — all in the first half.
Compare that to 119 passing yards for Syracuse, only one trip to the red zone, and SU’s seven incompletions and the glaring gap on the scoreboard doesn’t sound so unfathomable.
“They’re just good,” Syracuse defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough said.
In fact, Northwestern was so good that Shafer told his team at the break to come out and win the second half — not the game, but merely the final 30 minutes.
Syracuse did, but it still lost the game.
The frame was merely a formality. Colter, Siemian and Jones had wreaked all the havoc they needed to wreak. The damage was done, and so were Syracuse’s hopes at an upset.
Colter finished with 87 rushing yards and 116 passing yards while Siemian threw for 259 yards and three touchdowns. It was a golden combination – one that’s been talked about for Syracuse, but one Shafer hasn’t implemented quite yet.
That combination sent Syracuse packing halfway across the country with a 0-2 record.
Said Shafer: “We played a poor football game.”
Published on September 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm
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