Wildcats slam door on Spartans' comeback

  • Article by: NOAH TRISTER
  • Associated Press
  • November 18, 2012 - 12:06 AM

EAST LANSING, MICH. - With Northwestern again holding a late lead, coach Pat Fitzgerald was willing to punt the ball away and put his defense on the spot.

This time, the Wildcats held firm.

Northwestern forced four straight incompletions by Michigan State's Andrew Maxwell to close out a 23-20 victory over the Spartans on Saturday. The victory came a week after the Wildcats lost in overtime at Michigan following a last-ditch pass by the Wolverines at the end of regulation.

"The guys responded when we got back off the bus a week ago, from Ann Arbor," Fitzgerald said. "That's when this game started."

It was Northwestern's first victory over Michigan State since 2007.

Jeff Budzien kicked a 27-yard field goal with 7:30 remaining, and Northwestern was able to hold on to this fourth-quarter lead. The Wildcats (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten) forced a punt near midfield, but Fitzgerald decided to punt on fourth and 1 from the Northwestern 49.

The Spartans (5-6, 2-5) took over at their own 20 with 1:29 left.

Dion Sims was unable to hold on to Maxwell's fourth-down pass, ending the Spartans' final threat.

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