Venric Mark is running wild and Northwestern leads Minnesota, 21-10, at halftime in Minneapolis.
The Wildcats' speedy running back gashed the Gophers for 151 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries in the first half. He scored on a 26-yard dash on the Wildcats' first play from scrimmage and added a 48-yarder right up the middle for Northwestern's last score, early in the second quarter.
Mark has four runs of 25 or more yards and two of more than 45 as the Wildcats racked up 162 rushing yards in the first two quarters.
The Wildcats got off to a quick start as Minnesota's Lamonte Edwards fumbled the opening kickoff and Northwestern's C.J. Bryant recovered the loose ball at the Minnesota 26. On the Wildcats' first snap, Mark ran to the left and went untouched into the end zone for a 7-0 lead just 11 seconds into the game.
Minnesota answered with a 12-play, 76-yard drive that stalled at the NU 14-yard line after Nick VanHoose tipped away at the last moment a potential TD pass from Max Shortell to Isaac Fruechte. Jordan Wettstein hit a 31-yard field goal to pull the Gophers within 7-3.
Mark got loose again for a 47-yard run to the Minn 13 on Northwestern's second possession. Kain Colter wound up scoring on a 2-yard run on an option play to extend NU's lead to 14-3. That came after a pass interference call against Minnesota in the end zone gave the Wildcats a first down at the Gopher 2.
MarQueis Gray replaced Shortell at quarterback on Minnesota's next drive and scored on a 25-yard run up the middle to bring Minnesota to within 14-10.
After a Northwestern three-and-out, Northwestern's Quentin Williamstipped a Gray pass and David Nwabuisi intercepted it at the NU 43. Two Mark carries later, the Wildcats tallied their final score.
Colter got all but a handful of snaps at quarterback for Northwestern, one week after Trevor Siemian got the lion's share of playing time against Penn State. Colter is 4-for-4 passing for 32 yards and has 13 yards rushing. Siemian is 1-for-4 for 4 yards.
Gray is 4-for-8 passing for Minnesota, for 33 yards. He is also the Gophers' leading rusher with 76 yards and one TD.
Minnesota outgained Northwestern in total yardage, 211 to 198, and held the ball for more than 20 minutes in the first half. However, the Gophers turned the ball over twice, while Northwestern has none.