Northwestern totaled 560 yards of offense, ran 100 plays of offense, and posted 244 more yards than Boston College. Yet it took a touchdown in the final two minutes for the Wildcats to secure a 22-13 nail-biter win over the Golden Eagles.
Pat Fitzgerald was quick to use one of his favorite lines in explaining the victory to the media.
"Stats are for losers," stated Fitzgerald, and not for the first time.
It was an impressive display of ball movement by Northwestern's offense. However, the unit failed to reach the endzone in each of its five trips to the red zone.
"We're thinking we're moving the ball at will and then we'd get down to the red zone and hit a brick wall," said sophomore center Brandon Vitabile.
NU won its season-opener with offense and second contest with defense. The game ball for Saturday's win over Boston College goes to kicker Jeff Budzien who tallied five field goals -- four in the red zone -- when the offense stalled.
"At the end of the day, we've got to turn those threes into sevens," Fitzgerald said. "We've got to finish those drives."
It wasn't until the 1:37 mark of the fourth quarter in which Mike Trumpy dashed 27 yards for the win-securing touchdown. That was Northwestern's 100th play of the game.
"In a time like that where we need touchdowns, it's great to see the team put seven points up," Budzien said.
Trumpy, who finished with 107 yards on 16 carries, stepped in for starting running back Venric Mark after he left the game with what was termed a lower body injury. Mark was working his legs on the exercise bike along the sidelines, but did not return to the game.
It was a sight for sore eyes to see Trumpy leading Northwestern's offense. The junior running back suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the Wildcats' fourth game of 2011. He was a hero in the win on Saturday.
"I'm really proud of him for stepping up," Fitzgerald said of Trumpy.
The get-back-up mindset of Trumpy is emblematic of the Northwestern team as a whole. The Wildcats have shown resiliency as a team through each of their first three games.
Northwestern's mindset has been displayed during the fourth quarter of each narrow win, where it isn't letting up.
"We never quit," Budzien said. "This team has a different attitude than last year. The leadership is the best I've ever been around."
The Wildcats' win was their third over a major-conference opponent in three games; a claim no other program in the country can boast. Surely, that's something Northwestern can hang its hat on.
Pat Fitzgerald is satisfied with Northwestern's record, but isn't settling on the team's overall performance.
"We're in no way, shape, or form where we want to be just yet," he said. "But mission accomplished, we're 3-and-0."
• Prior to Saturday's game, Northwestern announced the approval of its new on-campus athletic complex. Pat Fitzgerald had a big smile on his face, tagging it as a game-changer for the football program. "It raises the bar in expectations for ourselves, individually as a program, for our entire athletic department, and for our fans."
• Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani didn't have much to say after his team's second loss. In addressing the Golden Eagles' struggles, he said: "Woulda, coulda, shoulda. We didn't make enough plays."
• NU kicker Jeff Buzien tied a school record with his five field goals. Last season, he tallied six field goals in 13 games.
• Freshman safety Traveon Henry burned his redshirt when he saw action for the first time. Henry was credited for a decleating hit during a punt return.
• Boston College linebacker Nick Clancy recorded 24 tackles in the loss.
• Northwestern is halfway through its four-game homestand. The Wildcats return home to battle with South Dakota next Saturday.