Freshman running back Isaiah Bowser rushed for his first two touchdowns as Northwestern rallied past host Rutgers for an 18-15 Big Ten win on Saturday afternoon in Piscataway, N.J.
The Wildcats (4-3, 4-1) needed Bowser’s 5-yard touchdown with 8:12 left to earn their third win in a row while the Scarlet Knights (1-7, 0-5) dropped their sixth straight.
Northwestern broke on top with Bowser’s 3-yard blast — his first collegiate touchdown — on the Wildcats’ first possession.
Rutgers managed just 40 yards on its first four drives, but sophomore punter Adam Korsak capped the fourth possession with a school-record 79-yard punt that shoved Northwestern inside its own 5.
That flipped the field and set up 15 consecutive points for Rutgers. Sophomore Justin Davidovicz booted a 42-yard field goal with 9:19 left in the first half, then freshman Isaih Pacheco took a trap up the middle and raced 44 yards for a score to give Rutgers a 10-7 lead.
After the teams exchanged punts, junior defensive tackle Willington Previlon sacked senior quarterback Clayton Thorson for a safety and a 12-7 halftime lead.
On Northwestern’s first drive of the second half, Previlon and senior linebacker Trevor Morris teamed up to sack Thorson and force a fumble that Morris recovered at the Northwestern 47-yard line.
Davidovicz took advantage of that miscue with a 26-yard field goal, but Wildcats freshman Drew Luckenbaugh answered with a 23-yarder on the next drive to cut Rutgers’ lead to 15-10.
Northwestern regained the lead on Bowser’s 5-yard run over left tackle with 8:12 to play. Thorson connected with senior Flynn Nagel on the 2-point conversion to make it 18-15.
Rutgers was forced to punt on its next possession, before Northwestern kept pounding out yards with Bowser to run out the final 6:30.
Bowser, who entered the day with two carries for 2 yards on his resume, finished with 108 yards on 24 carries while Thorson completed 17 of 34 for 150 yards.
Pacheco rushed 11 times for 76 yards to pace Rutgers while freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski hit 15 of 31 passes for 81 yards.
The Scarlet Knights owned a 145-84 lead in total yards at half, but the Wildcats outgained them 194-43 after the break to post a 278-188 edge.
Rutgers hasn’t scored more than 17 points in any of its losses.
—Field Level Media