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PERSA OK AFTER LEADING ‘CATS TO WIN OVER INDIANA
Posted By Ben Chiswick On Nov 1 2010 @ 8:25 pm In Northwestern | No Comments
Whew. You may now exhale, Wildcats fans.
Dan Persa is going to be OK.
Following a much-needed 20-17 road win at Indiana on Saturday, the spotlight shifted to the health of the Northwestern Wildcats’ (6-2, 2-2) star quarterback. After leaving the game in the fourth quarter thanks to a knee to the back of the head, Persa is already cruising through the school’s post-concussion protocol and is expected to play at Penn State on Saturday.
Although the win was clinched when that same drive ended with a field goal that gave the ‘Cats a late two-possession lead, Persa had already done most of the damage with a pair of spectacular touchdown passes to Jeremy Ebert. Early in the second quarter, Persa spun out of the pocket on a 3rd & 8 in the red zone and was scrambling towards the sideline when he hit Ebert for an 11-yard touchdown pass and a 7-3 lead. Halfway through the third quarter, the duo was at it again when another scramble – this time on 3rd & 15 – turned into a tie-breaking 30-yard score and a 17-10 advantage.
While Persa continues to rank among the national leaders in completion percentage (2nd – 74.4), passing efficiency (9th – 162.7), and total offense (12th – 302.8), his favorite receiver has been putting together a fine year himself. After another big day on Saturday, Ebert remains among the Big 10 leaders with 678 receiving yards (1st), 42 catches (T-2nd), and seven receiving touchdowns (4th).
Not a bad relationship between a couple of juniors that still have plenty of games ahead of them.
Another major development was a breakout game from redshirt freshman running back Mike Trumpy. On 21 carries, the Wheaton-native ran for 110 yards to further assert himself as Northwestern’s lead tailback. He also caught three balls for 54 receiving yards. It has been an excellent season for Trumpy, who has emerged as a huge offensive asset with a north-and-south style and 4.1 yards-per-carry.
And since we’re on the subject of good signs for the future, how about Evan Watkins? The backup quarterback – another redshirt freshman – only needed to throw the ball twice as the ‘Cats ran out the clock, but that included a key 13-yard completion on his first play from scrimmage. After Persa’s injury, Watkins was thrown into a 3rd & 8 midway through the fourth quarter with Northwestern leading by just one score. In an obvious passing situation, he stepped up and fired a strike to Ebert for a crucial first down.
Three plays later, a 45-yard field goal from Stefan Demos iced the victory.
All in all, it was a good day for the boys in purple. Persa and Ebert were fantastic again, Trumpy ran wild for his first 100-yard game, and the Northwestern defense held the Hoosiers high-octane passing attack to just 17 points – well below their average of better than 30 points-per-game.
The best news of all, however, came after the fact when word surfaced that Persa’s concussion was not found to be serious. Now, the ‘Cats can look ahead to a showdown in Happy Valley without having to worry about whether their field general will make the trip.
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