Sept. 5, 2010
Box Score |
NORTHWESTERN at VANDERBILT
Northwestern 23, Vanderbilt 21
Sept. 4, 2010
Vanderbilt Stadium Nashville, Tenn.
Northwestern Post-Game Notes
This was the third meeting between Vanderbilt and Northwestern, and the first in 58 years. It is the first time Northwestern has visited Vanderbilt.
Northwestern won its sixth straight season-opening game, and its fifth straight under current head coach Pat Fitzgerald. With the win, NU improved to 75-44-4 in season-opening contests. Since 1995, NU is 12-4 in season lid-lifters.
NU improved its regular-season road record (dating to the 2008 season) to 8-3 with the win over Vanderbilt. NU also has won nine of its last 10 nonconference games.
In its last 32 games decided by seven points or less, Northwestern is now 25-7 in those contests. NU went 6-2 a year ago in close ballgames.
Three Northwestern players made their first collegiate starts tonight: QB Dan Persa, OT Patrick Ward and DT Jack DiNardo. Punter Brandon Williams also made his collegiate debut on special teams.
On Northwestern's game-opening offensive drive, QB Dan Persa rushed for 54 yards on five carries. The drive was capped by a 26-yard field goal from PK Stefan Demos. Persa finished with a team-, game- and career-high 82 rushing yards.
WR Jeremy Ebert scored the Wildcats' first TD of the season on a 33-yard pass from QB Dan Persa. It was Ebert's first score since he tallied a TD in NU's 24-17 win at Minnesota on Nov. 1, 2008. Ebert finished the game with a career-high 99 yards on five receptions. He also had a 12-yard rush on a reverse play, giving him 111 yards of total offense.
P Brandon Williams' first career punt traveled 59 yards. That was NU's longest punt since Stefan Demos nailed a 63-yarder at Indiana on Oct. 25, 2008. Williams finished the game with a 42.4 yards per punt average, which included three of his five punts landing inside the opponents' 20-yard line. Vanderbilt finished the game with -1 yards on punt returns.
CB Justan Vaughn notched NU's first takeaway of the 2010 season with a third-quarter interception. It was his third career interception. That takeaway led to an NU touchdown (Dunsmore TD reception).
Walk-on WR Brendan Barber caught the first receptions of his NU career. He finished the game with two catches for 17 yards.
SB Drake Dunsmore caught his first TD reception of the season on a 9-yard pass play from Dan Persa with 5:03 left in the third quarter. Dunsmore has caught three of his four career TD receptions in the Wildcats' last five games.
DT Jack DiNardo totaled a career-high five tackles, all solos, the most by any NU defensive lineman. One of his tackles went for a 4-yard TFL. DiNardo also had a QB hurry.
QB Dan Persa finished the game with a career-high 222 passing yards and a career-high 304 yards of total offense. Persa completed 19-of-21 passes (90.4 percent), which is tops for an NU quarterback with 20 or more pass attempts. (Note: NU's single-game pass completion percentage is based on a minimum of 30 attempts).
LB Nate Williams and S Brian Peters both equaled career highs for total tackles, with Williams leading NU with 12 tackles (seven solos) and Peters with 11 (eight solos). Williams also had one TFL as well as a forced fumble.
SB Josh Rooks caught Persa's third TD pass of the game, and the eventual game-winning points, in the fourth quarter on 2-yard pass play with 4:39 remaining. Two of Persa's three TD passes went to NU superbacks. Rooks finished with a career-best three receptions for 19 yards.
RB Jacob Schmidt led all NU running backs with 44 rushing yards on 13 carries. Schmidt also added three receptions for 21 yards.