Northwestern Attempted a Fake Punt, and It Did Not Go According to Plan

by Matthew Memrick

Any fake punt play is a gamble, and Northwestern’s sad attempt at one on Saturday against Rutgers will likely go down as one of the worst in college football history.

I mean, Northwestern won the game, but this play is like one I would’ve run on a Playstation or Xbox game. And I’m not that great at gaming.

In past years, Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats have been respectable. The team has completed nine winning seasons in the past 15 years. They even finished 10-3 in 2017.

But this year’s team has underachieved. With wins against Indiana State and Ohio, the team has lost to Duke, Michigan State, and Nebraska. 

What Happened?

All day, the Wildcats were in control, with former South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski rolling with the offense. In his third start, he threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns. The team won, 21-7, at home.

I mean, Rutgers didn’t do itself any favors. The Scarlet Knights suffered from 11 penalties for 91 yards. They even had an unsportsmanlike conduct call for sideline interference that helped Northwestern keep a fourth-quarter scoring drive alive.

But on one late play, it looked like things quickly fell apart.

The Wildcats faced a 4th down with four yards to go.

They hiked it to punter and graduate student Derek Adams who almost ran straight ahead behind his offensive lineman and into a Rutgers defender. It kinda reminds you of that NFL quarterback Mark Sanchez’s 2012 “butt fumble,” but without the butt or the fumble. Sanchez ran into his own man. Adams just ran straight into his opponent.

The result: A loss of eight yards on the play. I guess Adams now has a story he can tell at the Evanston bar tonight.

Maybe Fitzgerald was just trying something, but the call was kind of bold.

According to The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman, Rutgers couldn’t do anything with the ball

“Rutgers answers with a thrilling timeout, delay of game, and missed field goal combo,” Sherman Tweeted.

One fan responded to Sherman, saying, “For being such a prestigious academic university, you would think they’d be smarter than that.”

Another Wild Play Saturday

Ohio quarterback Armani Rogers ran for 99 yards for a touchdown. The scoring play was the longest for a quarterback in FBS history, according to ESPN.

Playing against Buffalo, the Bobcats stuffed their opponents and kept them from scoring. The turnover, however, meant Rogers would be starting on the one-yard line.

On the next play, Rogers got to the side of the field and busted out for the scoring run.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, Arizona State’s Mark Malone held the previous record with a 98-yard rushing score against Utah State in 1979.

But the momentum wouldn’t hold for 1-5 Ohio. Rogers ran for 183 yards and scored two touchdowns, but Buffalo won, 27-26.