Home College Football Northwestern Wildcats Secures Its Fifth Consecutive Bowl Game Win By Defeating Utah...

Northwestern Wildcats Secures Its Fifth Consecutive Bowl Game Win By Defeating Utah Utes At Las Vegas Bowl 14-7

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Photo Credit: Elvin L. Anderson Jr.

Las Vegas, NV—Playing his last college game for the Wildcats, QB Ben Bryant was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Bryant performed exceptionally well, leading the Northwestern offense by completing 23 out of 34 passes, which resulted in 222 yards and two touchdowns helping Northwestern beat Utah 14-7 Saturday night in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Among his top targets were Bryce Kirtz and A.J. Henning. Kirtz was the leading receiver of the game with 68 receiving yards, including a 19-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter that ultimately secured the win. Meanwhile, Henning had six catches for 57 yards.

During the first half of the game, the defense played a major role as both teams struggled to establish a rhythm in their respective offenses. Hunter Renner’s punt, which covered 37 yards, was downed at the Utah two-yard line. Despite the disadvantageous field position, Utah managed to gain momentum and drove into Northwestern’s territory. However, Northwestern’s defense proved to be too strong as Cameron Ruiz Joseph intercepted Barnes’ pass attempt to the end zone on 2nd-and-7 from the Wildcats’ 43-yard line. The score remained tied at 0-0 as the first quarter ended and the second quarter began.

Photo Credit: Elvin L. Anderson Jr.

“Ben being a transfer, he embodies what it looks like to be a transfer to Northwestern,” coach David Braun said. “It’s about the right person. Not the right athlete, but the right person.”

Utah didn’t give up easily and managed to drive down to Northwestern’s 38-yard line with only 1:59 remaining, facing a critical 4th-and-3. However, Garnett Hollis, Jr. played a vital role in one of the night’s most significant moments, racing in to break up Barnes’ pass to Money Parks, allowing Northwestern to regain possession.

Bryant then effectively ended any hopes of Utah mounting a late drive by scampering 10 yards on 3rd-and-7, sealing Northwestern’s fifth consecutive bowl game victor.

The win closed out a tumultuous season for the Wildcats. Braun was hired in January as the defensive coordinator. He took over as head coach when coach Pat Fitzgerald was fired in July as a result of an investigation into a hazing scandal.

“Tough to win a football game scoring seven points,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “Our defense was pretty good, kept us in the game. This is not the players’ fault. We as coaches have to get them better prepared.”

UP NEXT:

Utah: The Utes, who will move from the Pac 12 to the Big 12 next season, will open the season at home against Southern Utah on Aug. 29.

Northwestern: The Wildcats open the 2024 season at home against Miami of Ohio.