2011 TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern Drops Another Bowl Game, 45-38

Northwestern gave Texas Tech a 22-point lead, but came back to within a touchdown... and fell short at the end.

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Northwestern Wildcats Give Up 369 Passing Yards, Lose Ticket City Bowl 45-38

Dallas, TX (Sports Network) - Taylor Potts threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns, leading Texas Tech to a 45-38 victory over Northwestern in the inaugural TicketCity Bowl at the Cotton Bowl.

Potts also ran for a touchdown for the Red Raiders (8-5), who have won seven of their last nine bowl games. Eric Stephens ran 14 times for 126 yards and a touchdown, and Lyle Leong caught 10 passes for 118 yards and a pair of TDs in the victory.

"I had pretty good protection today, and I will be the first to say that," Potts said. "Playing behind those five guys all season was surly a privilege. They got so much better from the time we played SMU when I got hit eight or nine times, and I thought it was going to be a long season, to playing in the bowl game now where I didn't get touched one time. So, that was really nice. All season having the protection they put up and them giving me the time to throw to the receivers we have."

Texas Tech held a 22-point lead early in the third and had it whittled down to seven following a fierce Northwestern rally. The Wildcats had a final chance to tie the game, but the Red Raiders' defense recorded an interception on a final Hail Mary play.

Kain Colter ran for 105 yards and two scores for the Wildcats (7-6), who are still in search of their first bowl win since 1949. Since its victory in the 1949 Rose Bowl, Northwestern has lost each of its next eight bowl appearances.

"Throughout the week our coaches had a great game plan to show Texas Tech some different looks and I thought we did a great job at that," Colter said. "We kept them a little off guard. They gave me the opportunity to play some quarterback, running back and wide receiver so I enjoyed that and making some plays."

The Wildcats opened the second half with an 18-yard field goal from Stefan Demos, but Stephens ran 86 yards to the end zone on the next play from scrimmage to put the Red Raiders' lead at a seemingly comfortable 31-9.

Northwestern, which scored 14 points in the final 3:20 of last year's Outback Bowl to push Auburn to overtime before faltering on a trick play, nearly pulled off another comeback.

Colter trimmed the Wildcats' deficit to 14 by recovering his own fumble in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown run, finishing an 11-play drive. His two- point conversion pass to Josh Rooks succeeded.

Potts responded with a six-yard TD pass to Tramain Swindall to restore a 21- point cushion for Texas Tech, which unsuccessfully tried an onside kick with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third. The failure proved costly, as Evan Watkins eventually rushed into the end zone from four yards away for a 38-24 contest heading to the fourth.

The Wildcats' first drive of the fourth ended with Watkins' 18-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Fields with 10:33 to play, though Potts was able to answer again for the Red Raiders.

Potts directed a 10-play, 69-yard series that ended in Leong's 11-yard touchdown reception with 7:13 remaining, putting the heat back on Northwestern.

Things looked bleak for the Wildcats after they punted, but Jordan Mabin came up with a huge interception of Potts and returned it 39 yards to the end zone to once again cut the gap to seven, 45-38, with 5:37 to play.

Texas Tech went to the ground to try to run out the clock, and it succeeded for the most part. Stephens converted a pair of third downs during a stretch of seven consecutive runs, and Northwestern didn't regain possession until 24 seconds remained.

Watkins attempted a desperation heave from his own 42 in the final moments, and it was easily intercepted by LaRon Moore.

The Red Raiders were the only team to score in the first quarter on Matt Williams' 24-yard field goal and Potts' 13-yard touchdown pass to Austin Zouzalik.

Northwestern cut its deficit to four with 6:47 until halftime on a Colter one- yard rushing score, though Potts answered with a 13-yard run to the end zone for a 17-6 contest.

Potts' six-yard TD pass to Leong with only 11 seconds remaining on the clock made it 24-6 at halftime.

Game Notes

Potts completed a season-high 43 passes...The Wildcats began their season 5-0 before losing six of eight to end the campaign...Texas Tech is 12-21-1 in bowl games...Watkins was the leading passer for Northwestern with 76 yards on 10- of-21 throws.

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Northwestern Falls Just Short Again, Loses To Texas Tech 45-38

The game came down to the last seconds, but ultimately Northwestern just didn’t have enough magic left to pull out a bowl win. The drought continues…

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TicketCity Bowl Going Down To The Wire

Though they were down by as many as 22 points, Northwestern has scratched and clawed its way back, pulling to within seven at one point. They’re now down by 14 after a recent Tech TD, but a comeback is not out of the question.

True freshman quarterback Kain Colter looks to be the next Dan Persa, but Northwestern suffered a blow on defense when Hunter Bates was seriously injured and had to be carted off the field.

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Lack Of Defense Killing Northwestern

Almost through three and the Wildcats find themselves down 38-17. Though they were able to get another Kain Colter touchdown and a two point conversion, the complete inability of the defense to form some type of pass rush has undone the ’Cats.

Taylor Potts has seen almost no pressure and the Red Raiders have been free to march down the field after every score of Northwestern. The Wildcats also seem to have forgotten how to tackle.

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At The Half, Northwestern Down 24-6

Northwestern finally made it into the end zone on a Kain Colter run, but a botched extra point shortly thereafter put only six on the board for the Wildcats.

And, unfortunately for ’Cats fans, the second quarter featured a complete breakdown of defense for Northwestern. Tech put up 13 unanswered points as the teams headed into the locker room. This one is getting ugly quick…

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After A Quarter, Tech Leads 10-0

Though the game got off to a slow start, Texas Tech has found its rhythm, jumping out to a 10-0 lead. Evan Watkins, the Northwestern quarterback, has looked better than in the last two regular season games he started, but has still missed open receivers at crucial points.

The Wildcats had pressure on Taylor Potts initially, but three straight long passes by Potts during a sixty yard drive led to the first touchdown of the game. Northwestern has been penalized heavily so far, to the tune of 30 yards through one quarter.

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2011 TicketCity.Com Bowl: Northwestern Takes On Texas Tech In Dallas

In only a few short hours the Northwestern Wildcats will play in their third bowl in as many years against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Rather than going into the game with a sense of anticipation, however, many Northwestern fans have been viewing the game with something closer to trepidation, if not sheer panic. The reason? The absence of starting quarterback Dan Persa, who suffered a tear to his achilles during the Iowa Hawkeyes game that prematurely ended his season.

Persa was pretty much the entirety of the Northwestern offense, and his absence showed. The Wildcats were blown out in their last two games against Illinois and Wisconsin, and Persa's replacement, Evan Watkins, looked anything but capable. The defense has been on shaky ground all season, and the offensive line has been borderline awful at points, allowing an absurd 3.3 sacks per game. But, Northwestern has been an underdog before in both of their most recent bowl games and they managed to take it to the wire then. Though Pat Fitzgerald had several weeks to prepare for this game, the question remains... was he able to fix the problems in time?

Kickoff is at 11:00 A.M. on ESPNU.

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