EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Zach Terrell threw for 218 yards and a touchdown, Jamauri Bogan had a 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down and Western Michigan posted a 22-21 upset of Northwestern on Saturday.
Terrell was 26 of 36 as Western Michigan’s offense controlled the play throughout and held the ball for 39 minutes. The Broncos converted four fourth-down plays, including the winning score.
“We didn’t come here to lay up,” coach P.J. Fleck said. “We came here to win.”
Justin Jackson had 124 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns for Northwestern.
Clayton Thorson completed 15 of 22 passes for 196 yards. His fumble at the goal line in the final minutes thwarted Northwestern’s comeback attempt.
The outcome essentially came down to two close plays at each goal line in the final minutes. Bogan’s touchdown with 5:38 remaining gave the Broncos the lead. The play was reviewed because there was a question whether his knee was down before he crossed over. The call stood.
On the ensuing possession, Northwestern drove down the field before Thorson was hit and fumbled. Davontae Ginwright recovered for the Broncos for the touchback before stepping out of bounds. The play was reviewed because Ginwright threw the ball back on the field — it was recovered by Northwestern — but it was ruled he stepped out before getting rid of the ball.
“You give credit where credit’s due, but we can’t fumble the ball,” Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “We take pride in our ball security. And to do that, it’ll cost you a game.”
Western Michigan: The Broncos were picked as favorites to win the Mid-American Conference this season and they showed why. Terrell ended last season as the seventh-most efficient quarterback in the country and picked up right where he left off. “Zach Terrell is the toughest football player I’ve ever coached,” Fleck said.
Northwestern: The Wildcats tied a school record with 10 wins last season, but the opener showed they have a ways to go before they can think of achieving that type of production this season. For now, Jackson will be the workhorse on offense until Thorson and the young receiving corps work out the kinks. Defensively, the Wildcats struggled to get consistent pressure on Terrell and were regularly outmuscled on short-yardage plays.
Western Michigan: The Broncos host North Carolina Central on Saturday night.
Northwestern: The Wildcats host Illinois State on Saturday in the second of four straight home games to start the season.
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