No. 22 Northwestern escaped Berkeley, Calif., with a 44-30 win over Cal on Saturday night thanks to a pair of unlikely heroes who had career nights.
Backup tailback Treyvon Green ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns, and Collin Ellis had not one, but two pick-6s in the second half to spark a Wildcat team that blew a 10-point third-quarter lead before closing out the win by outscoring the Bears 17-6 in the final period.
Green, by no means a speedster, did his best Venric Mark impression when he scored on a 33-yard run right up the middle in the first quarter to open the scoring for the Wildcats and tie the score at 7. He then tallied the touchdown that drove the final nail in Cal's coffin, a six-yard plunge with just 1:57 left. That score was set up by his 55-yard dash to the Bears' 34-yard line.
Ellis' first touchdown swung the momentum in Northwestern's favor in the third quarter. After Cal had ripped off 14 straight points to seize a 24-20 lead, Ellis plucked a tipped ball out of the air and raced 56 yards to give the Wildcats the edge again. He then picked off a Jared Goff throw that deflected off of receiver Darius Powe and sprinted 40 yards for the TD that gave the Wildcats a 37-27 lead with 7:57 left.
Northwestern was able to rally for the win on the road despite losing several players to injury.
Quarterback Kain Colter was hurt on the second play of the game after getting hit on a six-yard run and didn't return. Northwestern announced that it was an "upper body injury." The Wildcats also lost cornerback Daniel Jones right before the half with a "lower body injury." He also didn't return.
In addition, several other players were shaken up and lost for short stretches during the contest. Among them were Damien Proby and Will Hampton, who each left the field twice but returned shortly thereafter. At one point, a Northwestern defender left the field after three consecutive Cal plays.
In the first half, quarterback Trevor Siemian came to the rescue in relief of Colter. He carved up the Cal secondary to lead the Wildcats to a 17-10 edge at halftime.
Siemian completed 15-of-20 passes for 199 yards in the half, including a perfectly lofted 19-yard TD strike to Tony Jones to give the Wildcats a 17-7 lead. Siemian could not sustain his play in the second half, however, as he finished 18-of-29 for 276 yards, with one TD and two interceptions.
Cal's true freshman QB Jared Goff caught fire in the second half, tossing 52- and 7-yard touchdown passes to Chris Harper to turn a 20-10 deficit into a 24-20 lead. He wound up 38-of-63 passing for 445 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions -- two of which were tipped.
Cal's Brendan Bigelow ran for 55 yards on the first three snaps of the game but gained just 10 more yards on his next 13 carries.
Jeff Budzien was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals for Northwestern, hitting a 35-yarder in the first half and 19- and 35-yarders in the second.