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Baxter boosts Northwestern to win

Shug Baxter wasn't about to let Northwestern's offense have all of the spotlight.

In danger of squandering a 16-point second-half lead, the Trojans stared at a Blythewood offense that had churned out more than 400 yards. The Bengals faced third-and-3 from the Trojans' 10-yard line, needing just eight points to tie the score.

Quarterback Joe Britt dropped and threw, and Baxter saw his chance.

"I saw where the offensive lineman was going to try to cut block," the junior linebacker said, "so I just jumped over and ran at him."

Baxter tipped Britt's pass, forcing a fourth down, and Britt couldn't find Demetric Gray with a pass. Northwestern (3-1) got a first down and ran the clock out for a 40-32 win, its third straight after a season-opening loss and one where it trailed 14 points before its offense ever got the ball.

"I told them we just had to win the second half," coach Kyle Richardson said. "Our defense played great."

Gray and the Bengals (1-3) had slashed Northwestern with Gray's ability to place and then subtly remove the ball from his tailbacks' hands, and then pass over the Trojans' confused secondary. But Northwestern picked off two passes, one by Jaquavious Mackey that led to a 33-24 lead in the third quarter.

The Trojans' defense stiffened against a fitful Blythewood offense and gave quarterback Mason Rudolph time to settle down. The sophomore had his third straight stellar game, throwing for 312 yards and two touchdowns (204 yards to receiver B.J. Boyd, including a 36-yard scoring strike), and rushed for four more touchdowns.

"It feels real good," Baxter said. "We played hard. That bad first half we had, this shows we can overcome it."

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