BTN.com staff, December 31, 2011
(AP) Ryan Tannehill threw for 329 yards and a touchdown and Ben Malena ran for two more scores to lead Texas A&M to a 33-22 win over Northwestern on Saturday in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Northwestern led 7-3 early in the second quarter before A&M reeled off 27 straight points to take a decisive lead and then fight off a late rally to capture its first bowl victory since 2001.Texas A&M broke a five-game bowl losing streak in a win the team dedicated to fired coach Mike Sherman and offensive lineman Joseph Villavisencio, who was killed in a car accident last week. Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl, a span of nine losses. Read the full AP recap, get Tom Dienhart's reaction, see box score and the play-by-play and check out our photo gallery.
Here's postgame reaction from Northwestern's bowl defeat:
Read our quarter-by-quarter recaps, powered by Narrative Science:
FINAL: Texas A&M's 329 passing yards against Northwestern eclipsed it season average of 329 yards per game, helping Texas A&M (7-6) to a 33-22 win on Saturday at Reliant Stadium. The Aggies' passing game looked unstoppable at times against Northwestern's (6-7) defense. Texas A&M's explosive offense used big plays to take down the Wildcats. Northwestern's defense gave up six plays of at least 20 yards. The Aggies added to the highlight reel when Ryan Tannehill found Jeff Fuller open for a 38-yard pass with 12:23 left in the third quarter. The big play set up a nine-play drive that gave Texas A&M a 27-7 lead after Ben Malena ran 19 yards to paydirt. The Wildcats' offense finished the game having gained 278 yards, including 225 passing yards on 27 completions. Northwestern struggled to move the ball on the ground, earning 53 yards on 38 attempts. The Aggies' Tannehill went 27 of 40 through the air for a total of 329 yards. Tannehill tossed one touchdown and one interception. Ryan Swope was a key target for Tannehill. He hauled in eight catches for 105 yards. Texas A&M racked up 409 total yards. The Aggies' passing game had to do most of the work with the rushing attack contributing just 80 yards rushing on 27 attempts.
FOURTH QUARTER: Kain Colter led Northwestern in the quarter. He threw for two yards and one touchdown and ran for 31 yards and one touchdown, but the Wildcats couldn't come back, falling 33-22. Northwestern made the score 30-15 after Colter kept it himself for a one-yard touchdown run to finish off a 40-yard drive. The Wildcats started in good field position when Brian Peters intercepted a Ryan Tannehill pass. Northwestern put two points on the board when Demetrius Fields completed a two-yard pass. The Wildcats closed the gap to 30-22 when Colter threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Tim Riley to put a bow on an 80-yard drive. Texas A&M opened up the lead, 33-22, after Randy Bullock drilled a 31-yard field goal to end a 12-play, 68-yard drive. Northwestern's Dan Persa hit 200 yards passing for the game in the quarter, part of his 212-yard passing performance. The Aggies' Jeff Fuller reached the 100-yard receiving mark for the game thanks to two catches for 33 yards in the quarter, and ended his day with 119 yards in all.
THIRD QUARTER: Texas A&M held Northwestern to -1 total yards during the third quarter and the Aggies now lead 30-7. Texas A&M held the Wildcats to negative rushing yardage (-23 yards) in the quarter. Northwestern has given up 27 straight points. The Aggies opened up the lead, 27-7, after marching down the field for a seven-play, 93-yard drive that ended when Ben Malena pounded in a 19-yard touchdown run. Texas A&M made its lead 30-7 when Randy Bullock made a 47-yard field goal on the last play of a six-play, 20-yard drive. The Aggies' Ryan Swope topped 100 yards receiving for the game in the quarter, and has plenty of time to add to his 105 yards and eight catches. Ryan Tannehill clinched a 200-yard passing game with 65 in the quarter, part of his 260-yard day through three quarters for Texas A&M. The Wildcats will start the fourth quarter with possession at the Aggies' 49-yard line.
SECOND QUARTER: Texas A&M's defense shut down Northwestern and the Aggies now lead 20-7. Texas A&M scored 17 straight points after Venric Mark's two-yard touchdown run put the Wildcats on top 7-3, capping off a 13-play, 77-yard drive. Ben Malena's one-yard touchdown run gave the Aggies the lead 10-7 after a six-play, 60-yard drive. Texas A&M's drive was highlighted by Ryan Tannehill's 37-yard pass. The Aggies added to their advantage when Tannehill and Jeff Fuller combined for a 26-yard touchdown, putting a bow on a six-play, 69-yard drive to give Texas A&M the lead, 17-7. The Aggies only looked to the running game for one carry on that possession. Texas A&M made its lead 20-7 when Randy Bullock made a 40-yard field goal on the last play of a three-play, 17-yard drive. The Aggies began the drive with good field position at Northwestern's 40-yard line after Dustin Harris returned a punt. The Wildcats will receive to start the second half.
FIRST QUARTER: There were more punts than points in the first quarter, and Texas A&M leads 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. Texas A&M got on the scoreboard first, rattling off a 10-play, 46-yard drive that ended in a score when Randy Bullock kicked a 24-yard field goal. Northwestern has the ball at its own 24-yard line to begin the second quarter.
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