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Jon Krawczynski / AP Sports Writer, Published October 13 2012

Mark, Wildcats defeat Golden Gophers in football

MINNEAPOLIS – Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has been juggling quarterbacks over the last few weeks, looking for the right combination to get his offense into a rhythm.

It didn’t matter who was back there on Saturday against Minnesota, as long as he handed the ball to Venric Mark.

Mark rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns to carry Northwestern to a 21-13 victory over Minnesota on Saturday.

Mark wasn’t touched on scoring runs of 26 and 48 yards and the Wildcats

(6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) overcame 11 penalties to become bowl eligible and spoil Minnesota’s homecoming celebration.

“The game plan was to run the ball down their throat,” Mark said. “Seven of our first 10 plays were run plays, so our goal was to come in here and mulch them up.”

Done and done. Of Northwestern’s 275 total yards, 208 of them came on the ground.

MarQueis Gray rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown after missing the previous two games with knee and ankle injuries. But he also threw an interception and was injured again late in the third quarter for the Golden Gophers (4-2, 0-2).

The Gophers had a chance for a tying touchdown late, but Northwestern’s defense stiffened at the 6-yard line to keep them out of the end zone. Cornerback Nick VanHoose made the key play on the stand, batting a pass away from A.J. Barker in the end zone to save a touchdown.

Northwestern 14 7 0 0 – 21

Minnesota 3 7 3 0 – 13

First Quarter

NU – Mark 26 run (Budzien kick), 14:49.

Minn – FG Wettstein 31, 9:08.

NU – Colter 2 run (Budzien kick), 5:08.

Second Quarter

Minn – Gray 25 run (Wettstein kick), 14:53.

NU – Mark 48 run (Budzien kick), 12:50.

Third Quarter

Minn – FG Wettstein 38, 8:47.

A – 49,651.

NU Minn

First downs 13 21

Rushes-yards 34-208 42-158

Passing 67 169

Comp-Att-Int 11-17-0 16-30-1

Return Yards 0 37

Punts-Avg. 7-37.3 3-38.0

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 7-2

Penalties-Yards 11-93 9-82

Time of Possession 26:03 33:57

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Northwestern, Mark 20-182, Colter 10-26, Ty.Jones 1-4, Siemian 1-0, Team 1-(minus 2), Trumpy 1-(minus 2). Minnesota, Gray 9-86, Kirkwood 18-73, R.Williams 3-18, Jones 3-13, Mortell 1-7,

Shortell 6-(minus 18), Team 2-(minus 21).

PASSING: Northwestern, Colter 10-10-0-63, Siemian 1-7-0-4. Minnesota, Shortell 9-19-0-103, Gray 7-11-1-66.

RECEIVING: Northwestern, Lawrence 4-24, Vitale 3-21, Dickerson 2-6, Fields 1-12, Colter 1-4. Minnesota, McDonald 4-33, Barker 3-49, Fruechte 2-27, Goodger 2-23, Crawford-Tufts 2-8, Gray 1-16, Plsek 1-9, Kirkwood 1-4.