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(Saturday, November 24)
Final Score: Northwestern 50, Illinois 14
Evanston, IL (Sports Network) - Kain Colter threw a career-high three touchdown passes and also ran for a score, as the Northwestern Wildcats routed Illinois, 50-14, in the regular-season finale for both teams at Ryan Field.
The Wildcats (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten) are headed to the postseason for the fifth straight season and have now taken back the Land of Lincoln Trophy, which goes to the winner of this annual clash. Venric Mark had 18 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown, marking his eighth 100-yard rushing game of the year. His 2,048 all-purpose yards are the second-most in a single season in school history.
Donovonn Young carried 11 times for 74 yards and a touchdown for the Fighting Illini (2-10, 0-8), who closed out their season by losing nine in a row.
Illinois opened the game with an 11-play, 78-yard drive, capped by Young's 15- yard touchdown scamper.
Northwestern got on the board with a 44-yard field goal by Jeff Budzien midway through the opening frame. Illini return man Justin Green fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Northwestern's Cameron Dickerson recovered it at the Illinois 19. Two plays later, Colter scored from two yards out to give the Wildcats a 10-7 lead.
Colter made it a 17-7 game on the first play of the second quarter as he found Tony Jones for a nine-yard touchdown pass, which was set up by David Nwabuisi's interception in Illini territory.
Illinois cut the deficit to 17-14 following Reilly O'Toole's 12-yard touchdown scamper on the ensuing possession.
However, NU closed out the half with 10 straight points. Mark capped an 11- play, 79-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run at the 6:13 mark of the second quarter, and Budzien added a 36-yard field goal just before intermission to send the Wildcats into the locker room with a 27-14 cushion.
The Wildcats padded their lead with three third-quarter touchdowns. Colter found Tyris Jones for a 15-yard touchdown pass at the 10:20 mark of the third quarter, and he later connected with Paul Jorgensen for a 24-yard scoring strike midway through the frame. Mike Trumpy's three-yard touchdown run gave NU a 48-14 advantage with 2:09 to play in the third.
Max Chapman tackled Illinois running back Dami Ayoola in the end zone in the waning moments to account for the final margin.
The Wildcats made sure not to look past a struggling Illinois squad, as they held a 29-12 edge in first downs and out-gained the Fighting Illini, 450-242.
11/24 16:17:04 ET
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