The Northwestern Wildcats 21-17 upset win over #13 the Iowa Hawkeyes came at a price, a hefty price. They lost one of the most valuable players in the Big Ten, and college football overall, in Junior QB Dan Persa.
Persa threw the game winning, 20-yard TD pass to Demetrius Fields with 1:22 left, but ruptured his Achilles just after the play ended. Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn, a favorite for Big Ten Defensive player of the year, was blitzing him, but only lightly brushed him. A back-side Iowa rusher also went past Persa untouched. It appeared that Persa may have jumped up, or was about to commence running after the play, expressing the positive emotion of a thrilling comeback, which culminated in a 91-yard drive.
Either way, the freak injury means Persa will miss the final two games, along with NU’s bowl appearance. Redshirt Freshman Evan Watkins, a native of suburban Carol Stream, will start next week versus the Illinois Fighting Illini at the Cubs’ Wrigley Field in the Allstate Wrigleyville Classic.
By Paul M. Banks
“It was definitely a little bittersweet seeing him on the ground after that touchdown,” said senior superback Drake Dunsmore.
“I got to talk to him a little bit after the game, Dan is real positive. He’s a leader at heart and he’s not going to show any negative emotion in front of the guys,” he continued.
Persa came into Saturday leading the nation in pass completion percentage (73.4%) and was second in lowest interception percentage (1.16%) He was also 2nd in the Big Ten in completions per game, total offense and passing yards. Additionally, Persa was the league’s third ranked passer, and he added to his numbers Saturday by going 32 of 43 for 318 yards, 2 TDs and an interception.
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