Dan Persa threw three touchdown passes and Northwestern held off a
late rally to post a 23-21 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.
After backing up Mike Kafka a year ago, Persa wasted no time
putting his stamp on the Wildcat offense, completing 20-of-22 passes
for 223 yards. He threw for touchdowns in the first, third and
fourth quarters, seeming to come up with a big play whenever
Northwestern needed it.
The Wildcats led 10-9 at the half and Persa pushed the lead to
17-9 with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Drake Dunsmore with 5:20 left
in the third. Vandy pulled to within 17-15 but Persa struck again.
After Vanderbilt missed a field goal, Persa went to work and
capped an nine-play, 71-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to
Josh Rooks with 5:09 to play. Vanderbilt responded and Zac Stacy ran
for a 33-yard TD with 2:53 to play, but the Commodores failed to
convert the two-point conversion to tie the game and the Wildcats were able to run out
Warren Norman, last year's SEC Freshman of the Year, was held in
check by the Northwestern defense, finishing with 47 yards on 11 carries