Chicago Colleges: Rice Owls

Final: Northwestern 28, Rice 6

November, 12, 2011

One win away.

Northwestern needs one more victory to secure bowl eligibility after a miserable 2-5 start. The Wildcats won their third consecutive game Saturday thanks to a defense that is showing up in force after struggling mightily during the first two months of the season.

Pat Fitzgerald's crew nearly recorded its first shutout since 2007 before a trick play led to Rice's touchdown with 4:16 left in the game. Fitzgerald continue to say his defense was a few plays away from taking steps, and he has to be pleased with his crew in the past two games. Linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo had a nice day with two tackles for loss.

Northwestern's offense received a career performance from senior receiver Jeremy Ebert, who finished with seven catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Dan Persa threw four touchdown passes and two interceptions, completing 25 of 32 attempts for 372 yards. Despite dealing with injuries all season, Persa has been impressive. Northwestern found its run game late and finished with 533 total yards.

The Wildcats remain at home next week against Minnesota and the following week against Michigan State, likely needing just one more win to reach a bowl for the fourth consecutive season.

Halftime: Northwestern 21, Rice 0

November, 12, 2011
Northwestern's defense has shown up for the second consecutive week, and after a while, the offense made an appearance as well.

The Wildcats, who contained Nebraska well last week in Lincoln, held a Rice team that scored 75 points in its previous two games to no points in the opening half. The Owls struggled to get much going on offense and have given punter Kyle Martens quite the workout (5 punts, 215 yards).

Northwestern defensive end Tyler Scott recorded an interception late in the half, setting up a touchdown, and others have contributed for the Wildcats' D, which had held Rice to 116 yards.

The Northwestern offense has relied on the big play so far, and receiver Jeremy Ebert is having a huge day with five receptions for 173 yards and two touchdowns, including a 90-yarder that marked the second-longest play in team history. Demetrius Fields also had a 50-yard reception on third-and-long to set up an Ebert touchdown.

Quarterback Dan Persa returned from his left shoulder injury and has looked good, completing 10 of 14 pass attempts for 223 yards.