EVANSTON, Ill. — Clayton Thorson threw three touchdown passes, Justin Jackson ran for a career-high 184 yards and No. 17 Northwestern overcame a sluggish first half to rally for a 24-19 victory over Ball State on Saturday night.
Thorson, the freshman quarterback, finished 18 of 31 for 256 yards with one interception for the Wildcats (4-0). Jackson had 33 carries for an average of 5.6 yards.
Dan Vitale had five receptions for 108 yards and a pair of touchdown catches, including a 66-yarder in the first half.
Riley Neal was 14 of 35 for 178 yards and two touchdowns, both to wide receiver Jordan Williams, for Ball State (2-2).
Northwestern won its first four games for the second time in three seasons. Two years ago, the Wildcats dropped seven straight after the fast start. They begin the Big Ten season next week against Minnesota.