COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Senior running back Justin Jackson ran his way to the top of the career rushing list at Northwestern, and Wildcats surged back into the win column with a 37-21 victory over the Terrapins Saturday at Maryland Stadium.
Jackson, known to the Northwestern faithful as “The Ballcarrier,” became the school’s all-time leading rusher on a three-yard carry in the first quarter. The senior passed Damien Anderson (1998-2001; 4,485) to cement his name atop the Northwestern record book.
Jackson also continued his climb up the Big Ten career rushing list as he passed Anderson, along with Denard Robinson (Michigan, 2009-12), Darrell Thompson (Minnesota, 1986-89), and Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska, 2011-14) to move into ninth place all-time on the conference’s career rushing list. He now sits at 4,639 yards and needs just 37 yards next week to pass Anthony Davis (Wisconsin, 2001-04).
Jackson’s 171 yards on Saturday were a career high and the most for the senior since he rushed for 224 in last year’s Pinstripe Bowl win over Pittsburgh. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry against the Terrapins on 28 attempts and found the endzone twice.
Northwestern’s 37-21 win came in the first-ever meeting between the ‘Cats and Maryland and moved the Wildcats to 3-3 (1-2) on the season.
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Senior quarterback Clayton Thorson needed just 26 yards to pass Trevor Siemian (2011-14; 5,931) for fourth in program history in career passing yards and wasted no time doing that as he connected with senior Macan Wilson for a 32-yard completion on the Wildcats’ first drive.
Thorson finished the day with 293 yards and a touchdown on 27-of-49 through the air. He also rushed nine times for 43 yards and a touchdown. The junior now sits at 6,200 yards passing in his career, the fourth Northwestern quarterback ever to throw for more than 6,000 yards. Thorson will now chase down C.J. Bacher (2005-08; 7,319) for third place.
His 27 completions also put him into fourth place in program history, surpassing Siemian’s total of 550 in a career. Now at 567, Thorson sets his sights on Len Williams’ (1990-93) total of 644.
Maryland started off the scoring Saturday when its quarterback, Max Bortenschlager, found D.J. Moore for a 12-yard touchdown to put the Terrapins up 7-0.
Northwestern’s offense cut into the Maryland lead late in the first quarter after driving 68 yards in 16 plays, ultimately capping the drive off with a 40-yard field goal from first year Charlie Kuhbander. The field goal tied a career long for Kuhbander. The first year drilled three field goals on the day.
First-year defensive end Samdup Miller continued his strong play in the Big Ten, recording a sack for the third consecutive game.
Facing a third-and-19 on the ensuing drive, the Wildcats’ offense marched 80 yards on six plays, ultimately capping the drive with a five-yard touchdown run from Jackson to put the team up, 10-7.
Maryland took back the lead on the game’s next drive when Bortenschlager and Moore connected for their second touchdown of the game.
Northwestern’s high-powered offense continued to move the ball effectively on the next drive. The Wildcats moved 75 yards in 13 plays before capping the drive off with an 18-yard touchdown run from Thorson, his third rushing touchdown of the season, to make the score 17-14 in favor of the ‘Cats.
Late in the first half, NU scored on its fourth consecutive drive as Thorson connected with junior Flynn Nagel for a 14-yard touchdown, his first touchdown reception this season, to extend the lead to 24-14 heading into halftime.
Thorson was dominant for the ‘Cats in the first 30 minutes, finishing with 235 total yards and two touchdowns. The Wildcats racked up 327 yards of offense in the first half, while holding Maryland to 144. Terrapins’ running back Ty Johnson had minus-1 yards on three carries, making it the second week in a row that Northwestern held the opponent’s starting running back to negative yardage in the first half.
Northwestern kept its foot on the pedal to start the second half as Kuhbander connected on his second field goal of the game from 34 yards out to extend the lead to 27-14.
Bortenshlager followed by throwing his third touchdown pass of the game for Maryland, bringing the Terrapins within a score late in the third quarter. Another Kuhbander field goal, this one from 32 yards, put the ‘Cats up 30-21 with 13 minutes left in the contest.
The Wildcats put the game on ice with Jackson’s second rushing touchdown of the day from 21 yards out, going up 37-21 with 1:54 to go. That touchdown put Jackson ahead of Darnell Autry (1994-96) on the program’s career rushing touchdowns list with 36. The all-time leader is Anderson with 38.
Chicago’s Big Ten Team returns home to Ryan Field next Saturday for an 11 a.m. kick against Iowa.
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