Ryan Hilinski threw for two touchdowns and host Northwestern bounced back with a 21-7 victory over undisciplined Rutgers Saturday afternoon in Evanston, Ill.
Northwestern (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) rebounded nicely from its disastrous 56-7 loss at Nebraska two weeks ago by riding a balanced showing from its offense in the first home meeting with Rutgers since 1989.
Hilinski completed 18 of 33 passes for a season-high 267 yards and was not sacked after getting sacked four times at Nebraska. He connected with Malik Washington on a 64-yard TD with 6:36 remaining in the first and a go-ahead 2-yard TD to tight end Marshal Lang with 3:15 remaining in the first half.
Hilinski completed five passes apiece to Washington and Stephon Robinson Jr. Robinson finished with 115 yards and Washington had 84 yards.
Northwestern ran 48 times and gained 135 yards as Andrew Clair and Evan Hull combined for 116 yards.
The Scarlet Knights (3-4, 0-4) entered the game averaging four penalties per game -- the fewest in the Big Ten -- but were assessed 11 penalties for 90 yards and dropped their fourth straight.
Three of those penalties, including an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the team's sideline occurred on Northwestern's game-clinching drive that culminated with Clair's 3-yard TD for a 21-7 lead with 7:33 remaining.
Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral completed 18 of 30 passes for 152 yards while getting sacked three times before being replaced by Evan Simon. Bo Melton finished with eight receptions for 101 yards, including a game-tying 18-yard TD with 8:44 left in the second.
Northwestern took the lead with 6:36 remaining in the first quarter when Hillinski found Washington in the middle of the field on 2nd-and-2. Melton barely stayed in bounds at the back of the end zone for a 7-7 tie, but Northwestern regained the lead and dominated the rest of the way on a day in which the 1995 Rose Bowl team was honored.
--Field Level Media