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September 3, 2012

Mark claims Big Ten award

Northwestern return man Venric Mark is the Big Ten Special Teams co-Player of the Week for his record-setting performance against Syracuse.

The 5-foot-8 speedster from Tomball, Texas, totaled 134 yards on just two punt returns, breaking a 20-year-old, single-game school record for yardage (Lee Gissandaner, 1992).

Mark scored Northwestern's first touchdown of the season in the Wildcats' 42-41 win over Syracuse with an 82-yard return in the opening quarter, the school's first punt return for a touchdown since 2005 (Marquice Cole). He then added a 52-yarder in the second quarter to set up another touchdown.

Mark also collected 49 yards on three kickoff returns to become Northwestern's all-time leader in kickoff return yardage, with 1,513.

In all, Mark amassed 281 all-purpose yards on Saturday, tying a career-high he set in 2010 against Wisconsin. He was also named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for that effort, which, incidentally, is the last time a Wildcat won the award.

Mark shares the honor this week with Iowa placekicker Mike Meyer, who kicked four field goals in the Hawkeyes' 18-17 win over Northern Illinois.

Mark made significant contributions to the Wildcats' offense against the Orange, as well. He caught the first touchdown pass of the season, a 21-yarder from Kain Colter in the second quarter. He also made his first career start at tailback and was the Wildcats' leading rusher, with 82 yards on 14 carries, including a 32-yard dash.

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