Oct. 9, 2010
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Purdue 20, Northwestern 17
Site: Ryan Field - Evanston, Ill.
Records: Northwestern (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten), Purdue (3-2, 1-0 Big Ten)
Up Next: vs. Michigan State - Saturday, Oct. 23
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern held a 17-10 lead over Purdue early in the third quarter, but 10 unanswered points down the stretch by the Boilermakers proved to be the difference as Purdue downs Northwestern 20-17, handing the Wildcats their first loss of the season.
Dan Persa finished 31-of-40 on the night for 305 yards and added 24 yards on the ground for the Wildcats. Jeremy Ebert caught 11 of Persa's passes for 124 yards, both of which were career-bests. Drake Dunsmore and Jacob Schmidt each hauled in four receptions for Northwestern.
Schmidt was Northwestern's leading rusher on the night, racking up 32 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Mike Trumpy added 23 yards on nine carries.
It would prove to be a battle of each team's strength on the night, as Northwestern held a 305-47 edge in passing yards, but Purdue dominated the Wildcats on the ground, out-rushing Northwestern 232-84, led by 132 yards by quarterback Rob Henry.
As has been the case in every game this season, the Wildcats got on the board first with Schmidt finding the endzone on a two-yard plunge, capping a 13-play, 80-yard drive that burned just under six minutes off the first half clock.
Purdue responded with 10 unanswered points in the second as Henry rushed for 67 yards to the Wildcat nine yard line, setting up his own one yard touchdown run three plays later. Carson Wiggs then added a 36-yard field goal with 4:52 left in the opening half, giving the Boilermakers their first lead of the game at 10-7.
But Northwestern would respond just before the end of the half, putting together a 12-play, 48-yard drive which ended with a season-long 46-yard field goal from Stefan Demos as the teams went into the locker rooms knotted at 10.
Northwestern took the opening drive of the second half down the field with Persa converting a five-yard touchdown run to reclaim the lead 17-10. A 40-yard field goal by Wiggs cut the lead to four at 17-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
Following a number of defensive stands, Purdue put together a 14-play, 75-yard drive that spanned 4:19 late in the fourth quarter, capped by a seven-yard touchdown run on fourth and inches that gave Purdue the lead for good with 3:56 to play. Northwestern was able to drive the length of the field, but back-to-back missed field goals sealed the victory for the Boilermakers in their Big Ten opener.
Northwestern heads into its bye week after reaching the midpoint of the season with a 5-1 record. The Wildcats return to the turf at Ryan Field on Saturday, Oct. 23, hosting nationally-ranked Michigan State on homecoming.