Las Vegas Bowl victory for Northwestern caps up a resilient season
After a tight contest at the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday night, Northwestern came out on top, defeating Utah 14–7. The victory put the Wildcats’ season on a positive note and marked their fourth straight victory.
Ben Bryant, the quarterback, demonstrated his skill by throwing for 222 yards and two important touchdowns. One of the pivotal plays of the game occurred in the fourth quarter when Bryant found Bryce Kirtz in the end zone’s corner to seal Northwestern’s victory with a crucial touchdown.
Bryant’s performance was praised by head coach David Braun, who came over during a turbulent season and emphasized the value of character in addition to athletic ability for a Northwestern player. “Ben being a transfer, he embodies what it looks like to be a transfer to Northwestern,” Braun said. Finding the appropriate individual is crucial. The right person, not the right athlete.”
Northwestern’s difficult season, which was marred by coaching changes and off-field problems, came to an end with the win. Following Pat Fitzgerald’s exit due to a hazing issue, Braun took over as head coach and led the team to an impressive 8-5 record.
Conversely, Utah had a dismal season after dropping their last three games. Northwestern’s defense was instrumental in keeping Utah to 211 yards passing, including two interceptions and a fumble recovery, while quarterback Bryson Barnes struggled, finishing 8-for-13 with two interceptions.
With little over seven minutes left, Northwestern made a critical defensive hold on a fourth-and-two play, setting up their game-winning drive at their own 47-yard line. Bryant’s 34-yard pass to A.J. Henning created the situation for Kirtz’s game-winning touchdown catch.
Even with Utah’s late-game efforts, which included a 6-yard touchdown run by Micah Bernard to equalize the score, Northwestern’s fortitude and calculated plays ensured their victory. While praising the defensive effort, head coach Kyle Whittingham emphasized the need for offensive development.
Under Braun’s direction, Northwestern went from having a 1-11 record in 2022 to an 8-5 season that included a bowl victory, which is an impressive turnaround. In the meanwhile, Utah hopes to improve after a difficult season by anticipating the return of quarterback Cam Rising in 2024.
Northwestern celebrates a season of resiliency, development, and victory as the dust settles on the Las Vegas Bowl, laying the groundwork for a bright future under Coach David Braun’s direction.