Nov. 12, 2011
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EVANSTON, Ill. - Dan Persa showed no lingering effects from an injury that knocked him early from a game one week earlier, throwing for 372 yards and four touchdowls to lead Northwestern to a 28-6 win over Rice on Saturday.
The win evened the Wildcats' record at 5-5, keeping their bowl hopes alive, while the Owls saw their dreams of an additional game over the holidays end.
After Kyle Martens pinned Northwestern at their own four-yard line, Persa connected with Jeremy Ebert on a 90-yard scoring strike to jump out on top. The scoring connection was one of two on the day for the duo, as Ebert finished with seven catches for 208 yards.
The Owls were stymied by a Northwestern defense that allowed yards in the middle of the field before stiffening. Rice's best scoring chance of the first half came when sophomore kicker Chris Boswell attempted a school-record, 60-yard field goal just before the end of the half. Boswell's attempt was dead center, but smacked the cross bar and bounced back.
Freshman cornerback Bryce Callahan continued his drive for postseason honors by picking off his sixth pass of the season, most in the nation among freshmen. Junior Corey Frazier added his first interception of the year to give the Owls a pair of pickoffs of Persa.
Rice averted being shutout for the first time in 132 games when Tyler Smith scored on a nine-yard run with just over four minutes left in the game. The score was set up by a 43-yard pass completion from former high school quarterback Jordan Taylor to Andre Gautreaux.
Smith led the Owls with 84 yards rushing on 21 carries and added four receptions for 21 yards. Sophomore Paul Porras (13) and senior Justin Allen (10) both topped double figures in tackles.
The Owls will be back at Rice Stadium to close out the 2011 home season next Saturday when they play host Tulane for Senior Day at 2:30.