The 22nd-ranked Northwestern Wildcats used a furious third quarter rally to overtake the 17th-ranked Utah Utes, 31-20. Led by a defense that forced timely turnovers and 2018 SDCCU Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP Clayton Thorson, the Wildcats scored 28 unanswered points in the third stanza. DraftNasty’s Corey Chavous takes us inside the game with this photo collage.
This member of the Frog-X parachute team represented the Northwestern Wildcats and landed on the field effortlessly to the delight of the crowd.
Utah All-Pac-12 linebacker Chase Hansen, pictured, would have been huge for the Utes in this game but did not play due to an undisclosed injury. The player he's doing drills with -Utes captain and LB Cody Barton- finished his 2018 campaign with 116 tackles, four quarterback sacks, 10.5 tackles for losses and six pass break-ups.
Despite Barton's presence most of the night (8 tackles, 1/2 sack, 1/2 TFL), Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson was still able to get this pass off early in the game versus the blitz.
Utah freshman quarterback Jason Shelley once again started for an injured Tyler Huntley. Shelley passed for 302 yards (60%), 2 TDs and 2 INTs.
Utah running back TJ Green couldn't quite get to this pass on the sidelines in the first quarter of Monday's action.
Utah placekicker Matt Gay (No. 97 pictured) -the 2017 Lou Groza Award winner- nearly had this kick blocked by Northwestern DL Ben Oxley (No. 94 pictured). Gay had three kicks blocked in 2018.
Utah's Bradlee Anae (No. 6 pictured) forces a fumble versus Northwestern running back Isaiah Bowser (No. 25 picutred) in the fourth quarter. He finished 2018 with 51 tackles, eight quarterback sacks, 15.5 tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and three pass break-ups.
The Utes tried to put Armand Shyne in the Wildcat near the goal line, but Northwestern linebacker Paddy Fisher was on his game most of the night.
Fisher (No. 42 pictured tackling Devin Brumfield in the fourth quarter) finished second on the Wildcats in tackles this year (117). In the Holiday Bowl, he had 13 tackles, 1/2 tackle for loss and one forced fumble.
The Wildcats were down 20-3 at halftime before a furious third quarter rally featured 28 unanswered points. Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson (No. 18 pictured) threw this third quarter pass to offensive lineman Trey Klock (No. 39 pictured) to put the Wildcats up 24-20.
What a moment for the senior Klock, who battled injuries as a former offensive lineman for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Northwestern's Riley Lees (No. 19 pictured) is sort of a jack of all trades for the Wildcats. The team's starting punt returner also lines up in the Wildcat and scored on an eight-yard touchdown late in the third quarter to put the team up 31-20.
Despite getting banged up late in the fourth quarter after a huge hit on the sidelines by Utah safety Marquise Blair, the game was a redemption for Thorson (No. 18 pictured). He was injured (torn ACL) in last year's 2017 Music City Bowl.
Sophomore safety JR Pace was named the 2018 Holiday Bowl Defensive MVP (7 tackles, 1/2 TFL, 34-yard fumble return, one interception and one pass break-up). Thorson was named the 2018 Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP after completing 21-of-30 passes for 241 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Pat Fitzgerald held up the Holiday Bowl trophy in style as his senior quarterback Clayton Thorson approved.