Sunday, September 14, 2003

Miami 44, Northwestern 14

Roethlisberger rebounds in style; Turnover-free RedHawks cruise past Big Ten Wildcats

By Johnny Rosenstein
Special for the Enquirer

Miami's Martin Nance (15) gets past Northwestern's Jeff Backes for an 18-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
EVANSTON, Ill. - Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dissected Northwestern's defense, connecting on 28-of-37 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns as the RedHawks (1-1) claimed a 44-14 victory over the Northwestern Wildcats (1-2) Saturday afternoon.

The 6-foot-5 junior threw for 213 yards and two TDs in the first half alone. He completed 19-of-24 passes in the half as Miami built a 23-7 lead. After two second-half touchdowns, coach Terry Hoeppner pulled his star QB early in the fourth quarter.

"Two weeks ago at Iowa (a 21-3 loss), that wasn't the Miami offense," said Roethlisberger, who became Miami's all-time leader in passing touchdowns (50) and total offense (7,090 yards). "The biggest goal this week was to come out and execute.

"The supporting cast, Martin Nance, Michael Larkin and the offensive line did a phenomenal job. I can't say enough about them."

Nance, whose parents were part of the crowd of 24,215, caught four passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns, while Larkin pulled in seven catches for 89 yards and a score.

"This game meant a lot to me," said Nance, who hauled in his first career TDs. "My parents were actually born in Chicago. Our family reunion was here and fell on this weekend, so they were out here in big numbers."

Nance scored on an 18-yard pass as the RedHawks opened with a nine-play, 65-yard drive in which Roethlisberger completed all five of his passes for 60 yards. A 31-yard field goal by Todd Soderquist increased the lead to 10-0 with 13:37 left in the second quarter.

"We needed big plays," Hoeppner said. "We haven't been getting big plays, last year or last week against Iowa. Nance, Larkin and Ben made some big plays today."

Northwestern cut the deficit to 10-7 on Jason Wright's 5-yard run with 8:07 to go in the half, but the RedHawks responded with a 12-play, 60-yard scoring drive, culminating with a 15-yard run by Mike Smith (11 carries, 50 yards).

Roethlisberger connected on 6-of-7 pass attempts for 48 yards on the drive. The extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving Miami with a 16-7 advantage at the 3:29 mark.

After holding the Wildcats to just 3 yards on the next possession, Ryne Robinson returned the ensuing punt 17 yards to Northwestern's 33-yard line.

Three plays later, Roethlisberger hit Larkin for a 26-yard touchdown pass and a 23-7 lead with 1:24 left in the half.

"The defense (which allowed just 41 rushing yards) did a great job, too," Roethlisberger said. "They come out and get after it. They may not be the biggest or the strongest, but they're tough and fun to watch."

Miami increased the lead to 30-7 when Roethlisberger hit Nance for a 61-yard touchdown with 3:40 to go in the third quarter. Roethlisberger slipped a tackler and hit Nance in the right flat before the junior receiver cut across the field and eluded several Wildcats for the TD.

Miami finalized its scoring with two rushing touchdowns.

"Today confirmed what we believed," Hoeppner said. "We thought we were good ... going into Iowa, but we were disgusted with our performance there. We were really disappointed. Today obviously confirms things about what this team can do and accomplish."

Miami U.716714-44

First Quarter

MIA- Nance 18 pass from Roethlisberger (Soderquist kick), 10:33.

Second Quarter

MIA-FG Soderquist 31, 13:37.

NU-Wright 5 run (Larscheid kick), 8:04.

MIA-Smith 15 run (kick blocked), 3:29.

MIA-Larkin 26 pass from Roethlisberger (Soderquist), 1:24.

Third Quarter

MIA-Nance 61 pass from Roethlisberger (Soderquist), 3:09.

Fourth Quarter

MIA-Murray 22 run (Soderquist kick), 14:27.

MIA-Ciborowski 3 run (Soderquist), 7:52.

NU-Jordan 10 run (Larscheid kick) 3:50


First downs2517
Rushes-yards38-147 27-41
Comp-Att-Int29-41-0 22-44-1
Return Yards8983
Time of Possession31:46 28:14


RUSHING-Mia, Murray 13-62, Smith 11-46, Roethlisberger 4-24, Clemens 4-8, Ciborowski 2-5, Robinson 1-4, Busing 1-0, Rehage 1-0, Team 1-(minus 2). NU, T. Jordan 4-23, Wright 11-20, Jenkins 1-6, Webb 4-5, Herron 1-(minus 1), Basanez 6-(minus 12).

PASSING-Mia, Roethlisberger 28-37-0-353, Betts 1-4-0-15. NU, Webb 10-24-1-147, Basanez 12-20-0-126.

RECEIVING-Mia, Larkin 7-89, Brandt 5-41, Nance 4-126, Corbin 3-12, Smith 2-28, Robinson 2-28, Busing 2-21, Murray 2-11, Clemens 1-7, Tyler 1-5. NU 6-37, Philmore 3-57, R. Jordan 3-35, Patrick 3-14, Horn 2-93, T. Jordan 2-28, Wright 2-4, Bogenrief 1-5.

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