EVANSTON, Ill. – Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald was full of positives after his Wildcats’ 37-3 win over Illinois State on Saturday.
If he had one criticism, it was senior defensive tackle Corbin Bryant’s running ability after intercepting his first career pass.
“Wow,” Fitzgerald said. “He looked like a defensive tackle with the ball in his hands. He cut right back into a guy. Interesting. I couldn’t be more happy for a senior, a senior in his last opener. That’s a D-lineman’s dream.”
As for the rest of the game, here’s a quick rundown of the best of the best.
The play of the game: Northwestern’s Dan Persa put the Wildcats on the board with a four-yard touchdown pass to Drake Dunsmore on the team’s first drive. Persa also hooked up with Dunsmore for another touchdown later.
Biggest hit of the game: On a kickoff in the second quarter, Northwestern’s Brian Peters lifted Illinois State ball-carrier Ben Ericksen in the air and body-slammed him to the ground.
ESPNChicago.com SportsCenter highlight of the game: Northwestern defensive tackle Corbin Bryant intercepted a pass and trucked it for 17 yards. A 6-4, 300-pound lineman running with the ball always makes the highlights.
Northwestern MVP: Quarterback Dan Persa. Persa could come out of Week 2 as the most accurate passer in the nation. After completing 19-of-21 throws for 222 yards and three touchdowns last week, he hit 19-of-23 targets for 240 yards and two touchdowns against Illinois State.
Illinois State MVP: Quarterback Matt Brown. Brown gained experience playing as a redshirt freshman for the Redbirds and has taken a step in his game as a sophomore. He had his ups and downs against Northwestern’s defense, going 13-of-22 for 138 yards and three interceptions, but he has a bright future and could be among the top FCS quarterbacks this season.
One for the history books: Northwestern freshman wide receiver Rashad Lawrence and Venric Mark each made their first collegiate receptions on Saturday. Lawrence made an impressive over-the-shoulder 50-yard catch, and Mark dove for an under-thrown ball and pulled it in for a 21-yard grab.
Quote of the game: Northwestern defensive tackle Corbin Bryan on his interception -- “I was just trying to get as far as could, and I saw the quarterback had an angle on me, so I just tried to go knock him out, but he cut me. … I tried to hug everybody. It was just a great feeling. I didn’t even know what to do afterwards.”