MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Running the speed option with remarkable ease, Northwestern’s Mike Kafka raced through the Minnesota defense for a record-setting 217 yards. Then he watched teammate Brendan Smith mimic some of his moves for the game-winning touchdown.
Smith grabbed a deflected ball and returned an interception 48 yards to score with 12 seconds remaining, sending Northwestern past stunned Minnesota 24-17 and spoiling homecoming for the 20th-ranked Gophers on Saturday.
“I got the ball and just thought, ‘Touchdown,”’ Smith said. “I think everyone should think that when they get the ball in their hands with however many seconds left. I tried to take it to the sideline and make something happen.”
Kafka did that nearly every time he touched the ball, often taking the snap and just sprinting around the end without even looking to pitch it. With C.J. Bacher’s streak of 25 straight starts stopped by a hamstring injury, Kafka stepped in and carried the ball 27 times. His 217 yards rushing set a school record for a quarterback to make up for a pair of interceptions.