NCAA Game Summary - Mississippi State vs. Northwestern
(Tuesday, January 1st)
Final Score: (21) Northwestern 34, Mississippi State 20
Jacksonville, FL (Sports Network) - Pat Fitzgerald never won a bowl game at
Northwestern as a player, but now he's helped end the Wildcats' long
postseason drought as a coach.
An elongated 64-year stretch to be exact.
Venrick Mark, Trevor Siemian and Tyris Jones all ran for touchdowns in No. 21
Northwestern's 34-20 win over Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl.
The Wildcats' lone bowl win prior to Tuesday was a victory over California in
the 1949 Rose Bowl.
Kain Colter and Siemian split time at quarterback. Siemian threw for 120 yards
on 12-of-20 efficiency with an interception, while Colter tossed two picks and
completed 9-of-16 passes for 76 yards. Colter added 71 yards on the ground for
Northwestern (10-3), which made its fifth consecutive bowl appearance and had
dropped nine straight postseason tilts coming in.
"That was our plan all along," Fitzgerald said about playing both
quarterbacks. "We really felt like both guys were playing at a high level
at the end of the season. We wanted to be able to be multiple in what we were
trying to do and what we were trying to accomplish."
Dan Vitale caught seven passes for 82 yards in the win.
Tyler Russell struggled mightily and completed just 12 passes on 28 attempts
for 106 yards with four interceptions for the Bulldogs (8-5), who lost five of
their last six contests to close the year after a 7-0 start.
The Bulldogs hadn't lost a bowl game since the 1999 Cotton Bowl.
"At times I thought we did some very good things during the day today, but
there were times when we made some very big mistakes. When that stuff happens
and you get out of sync, you see what happens," Mississippi State coach Dan
Mississippi State overcame three Russell interceptions over the first 14-plus
minutes and a 13-0 deficit before tying the contest with a 47-yard field goal
on the Bulldogs' first possession of the second half.
Northwestern, though, answered with a pair of touchdowns on its next three
treks to take a 14-point lead.
Siemian had back-to-back completions to Demetrius Fields and Vitale for 27 and
34 yards before Jones scampered in from three yards out.
Following a Mississippi State punt, Siemian gave the ball right back to the
Bulldogs after Nickoe Whitley picked him off. But Mississippi State did
nothing with the miscue and Siemian capped off an 8-play, 74-yard drive with a
4-yard TD scamper to make it 27-13 late in the frame.
Russell had thrown for just 45 yards on the Bulldogs' first 10 offensive
marches, but tabulated 43 yards through the air on Mississippi State's ensuing
8-play, 60-yard sequence, which culminated when Russell found Malcolm Johnson
for a 14-yard score.
Mississippi State got the ball back following a Wildcats' three-and-out, but
Russell was intercepted by Nick VanHoose, who returned the pick 29 yards. A
Bulldogs penalty on the play placed the ball at the 5-yard line. Mark plunged
in two plays later to make it 34-20 midway through the fourth.
The Bulldogs punted on their next series and Northwestern took the next 3:58
off the clock and Mississippi State regained possession at their own 20 with
2:54 left. But Quentin Williams, who returned a pick 29 yards for a score on
the third offensive play of the game, sacked Russell on 4-and-20 to seal the
Following Williams' touchdown, Russell was picked off again on Miss State
second series, which led to a Jeff Budzien 34-yard field goal. Budzien booted
through a 37-yarder early in the second for a 13-0 spread.
Devon Bell nailed a 27-yard field goal midway through the stanza and Russell's
18-yard TD strike to Arcelo Clark with a little over a minute left in the half
cut the deficit to 13-10 heading into the break.
Fitzgerald, who lost the 1996 Rose Bowl and 1997 Citrus Bowl as a member of
the Wildcats, has the school record for wins with 50 ... This was the first
matchup between the two schools.
01/01 20:42:14 ET
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