Once again put into the starting role, Kain Colter delivered another solid performance. He led all Northwestern rushers with 120 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.
"I don't know how good Persa is—he's an All-American, but this kid (Colter) is unstoppable," said Eastern Illinois head coach Bob Spoo.
"I thought they played really well," Pat Fitzgerald said of NU's rushing attack. "Mike was not cleared for the game and to have those guys step up the way they did, I thought we ran it really effectively."
Senior quarterback Dan Persa was not cleared by the NU medical staff, leaving Colter to make his second career start. Once again, he had had no problem leading the Wildcats down the field. Fitzgerald was pleased with Colter's improvements from week one.
"I thought the way he played looked like he really improved from last week from a standpoint of taking what the defense gave him," Fitzgerald said.
"He made a lot of really good decisions in the passing game. Running the ball, (EIU) made a decision that they were going to let him run the ball earl and I thought he ran well."
The Wildcats took control right from the start of the game. Senior linebacker Bryce McNaul pulled down an interception on a Jimmy Garoppolo errant pass. Shortly after, Colter led the offense down the field. He capped off a quick drive with a five-yard run. Just like that, Northwestern was off and running.
Trailing 14-0, Eastern Illinois was able to get on the board midway through the first half. Garoppolo found Kenny Whittaker for a 72-yard touchdown pass—largely setup by a blown coverage in Northwestern's secondary.
Northwestern didn't take too long to respond. Three minutes later, Colter was back in the endzone for his second score of the game.
Just prior to the end of the half, freshman running back Treyvon Green scored his first collegiate touchdown, which gave the Wildcats a comfortable 21-point halftime lead.
The Wildcats would add to that comfortable lead after a nine play, 80-yard touchdown drive. Once again, it was Colter capping it off with a touchdown run. This time, he spun into the endzone and took a big hit, but added to the lead.
Colter would later be removed from the game, giving redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Siemian his first bit of action. After a three-and-out led to a Panther score, Fitzgerald removed Siemian and put Colter back in the game.
What led to Fitzgerald's decision to bring Colter back in? Among other things…
Colter took the Wildcats down the field once again. It was after sophomore running back Adonis Smith suffered a leg injury when Colter was removed again. Siemian extended the Wildcats' lead with his first career touchdown pass, a one-yard toss to senior running back Tyris Jones—also his first career touchdown.
With the game will in hand, Fitzgerald was able to give his starters some rest, allowing some valuable playing time for bench players. In total, 69 players took the field for the Wildcats.
With their second win in hand, the Wildcats now turn their attention to Army.
"We've got a lot to work on and now our focus shifts to an Army football team that is as good as anyone at what they do," Fitzgerald said. "It's going to be a great challenge for us."