Sunday, October 12, 2003

Northwestern 37, Indiana 31 (OT)

Northwestern holds off Hoosiers' comeback

The Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Northwestern coach Randy Walker had a nasty sense of deja vu at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 2-yard touchdown run with less than 12 minutes remaining had just given Indiana a 31-24 lead and wiped out the Wildcats' 17-0 first-quarter advantage.

"That hiatus looked all too familiar," Walker said of his team's collapse. "It concerned me."

A week earlier, the Wildcats took a 14-0 halftime lead against Minnesota, only to lose the game 42-17.

They held on Saturday, thanks mostly to Jason Wright.

Wright ran for 141 yards and four touchdowns, including the winner in overtime, as Northwestern beat Indiana 37-31.

"There's a lot of ways to win football games, and it isn't always conventional," Walker said.

It was the latest thriller in what has become a rivalry known for big offense and close finishes.

The Hoosiers (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten) and Wildcats (3-4, 1-2) had split the last four games, with the winner averaging 45.8 points a game.

Saturday was no different, with two struggling offenses - Indiana was ranked 106th nationally in scoring offense, Northwestern 100th - suddenly exploding for 68 points and 914 yards of total offense.

"No one wanted to stop anybody," Northwestern linebacker Pat Durr said.

Green-Ellis had 25 carries for 136 yards and three touchdowns for Indiana, which was looking to win its first Big Ten game since the 2002 conference opener against Wisconsin.

In its homecoming game, Indiana had 531 yards of total offense, including 327 yards rushing.

"It's a bad feeling when you run the ball as well as we did and you put in all this hard work and still lose the game," Green-Ellis said.

The Hoosiers had a chance to win in regulation, getting the ball at their own 46 with 1:30 to play. But coach Gerry DiNardo elected to keep the ball on the ground, and Bryan Robertson's 54-yard field-goal try with time running out was well short.

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Northwestern 37, Indiana 31 (OT)
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