Northern Illinois Falls to Northwestern 35-17 in Season Opener

Updated 8/31/2000
Northwestern running back Damien Anderson (20) tries to elude Northern Illinois' Demerist Whitfield (29) in the first quarter. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
>EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) (August 31, 2000) -- Northern Illinois lost its opening game of the 2000 season, a 35-17 loss to Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.

The Wildcats had back-to-back first-quarter scoring drives of 57 and 95 yards against the Huskies.

Northwestern unveiled a new wide-open, no-huddle offense Thursday night, two defensive stands and Sam Simmons' explosive kick returns sparked a 35-17 victory over Northern Illinois.

On a hot and humid night, Damien Anderson gained 88 yards on 20 carries and scored twice, and Zak Kustok, often throwing out of the shotgun, threw two TD pass in the season opener for both schools.

The speedy and elusive Simmons, who missed the final month last season with a broken clavicle, had more than 200 all-purpose yards on kickoff returns, punt returns and one reception, constantly giving the Wildcats good field position.

Northern Illinois head coach Joe Novak watches as his team plays Northwestern in the first in Evanston, Ill. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)