Northwestern off to 4-0 start with win over Ohio

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern got off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 1962 by blocking two field goals, recovering two fumbles and holding pesky Ohio to four yards rushing in a 16-8 win Saturday.

The Wildcats survived an offensive drought in the second half and four interceptions by C.J. Bacher, as well as an injury to starting tailback Tyrell Sutton.

In the third quarter, Northwestern rushed for minus-4 yards and failed to pick up a first down with Sutton on the bench because of a leg injury. But they did enough on defense and special teams to hold down the Bobcats (0-4) -- who put a scare into Ohio State two weeks ago.

Amado Villarreal made three field goals and Omar Conteh had a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to give the Wildcats a 16-0 lead at halftime.

It turned out to be enough because Ohio couldn't establish any kind of a running game against Northwestern. The Bobcats had 14 plays of negative yardage.

Ohio's Barrett Way was without usual long snapper Kyle Robbins and it showed. He missed a 42 yard field goal in the first quarter and had attempts blocked in the third and fourth quarters. Northwestern hadn't blocked a field goal in four years.

Late in the second quarter, Vince Browne sacked Jackson for a nine-yard loss on 4th and 5, giving the Wildcats the ball back near midfield with just under 2 minutes left. On 3rd and 1, Sutton broke free for a 31-yard gain to the 11, and Conteh scored with 13 seconds left to make it 16-0.

Sutton left after the long carry and didn't return. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said he couldn't comment on Sutton's injury until he got an injury report, but linebacker Malcolm Arrington said Sutton was in good spirits on the sideline and should be OK. The senior is the second in school to have more than 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a career, joining Ricky Edwards from 1979-84.

Late in the third quarter, Ohio scored on Jackson's 12-yard pass to Andrew Mooney, followed by a pass to LaVon Brazill for a 2-point conversion to make it 16-8.

Bacher went 18-for-35 for 133 yards, and ran for another 37. Conteh ran for 35 yards in relief of Sutton, who missed time last year with an ankle injury.

Jackson went 27-for-42 for 228 yards and two interceptions, and ran for minus-28 yards, including the five sacks. Harden led Ohio with 19 yards rushing.

Despite their record, the Bobcats have been competitive in every game, leading Ohio State in the second half and losing close games to Central Michigan and Wyoming.