for this game

Northwestern spoils Iowa's Big Ten hopes with late rally

Nov 14, 2010 - 1:47 AM Evanston, IL (Sports Network) - Dan Persa threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, including a 20-yard strike to Demetrius Fields with 1:22 remaining, and Northwestern rallied to beat 13th-ranked Iowa, 21-17, and deliver a crushing blow to the Hawkeyes' Big Ten title dreams.

Persa, who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon on the go-ahead score and will miss the remainder of the season, connected on 32-of-43 tosses for 318 yards and added a rushing touchdown for the Wildcats (7-3, 3-3 Big Ten).

Ricky Stanzi was 23-of-41 for 270 yards with two touchdowns for Iowa (7-3, 4-2), which avoided an upset last week on the road against Indiana, needing a late touchdown drive and a dropped ball in the end zone by the Hoosiers' Damarlo Belcher in the final minute to escape. The Hawkeyes weren't so lucky on Saturday.

After struggling to move the ball in the first half, Stanzi orchestrated a pair of scoring drives in the third quarter, throwing a pair of touchdown passes to two different receivers.

Iowa grabbed the lead as Stanzi capped the Hawkeyes' opening possession of the second half by finding Marvin McNutt in the end zone from five yards out. After the Wildcats were forced to punt, Stanzi hit a streaking Derrell Johnson-Koulianos on a post route in stride for a 70-yard TD catch, putting the visitors up 17-7 with 6:01 to play in the third.

Northwestern safety Brian Peters intercepted Stanzi in the fourth quarter, setting the Wildcats up at their own 15-yard line. Persa led the team down the field and capped a 13-play drive with a six-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Ebert with 6:21 remaining.

"We lost because I threw a stupid interception, and they switched the momentum," Stanzi said. "I didn't see the right guy."

The Hawkeyes punted the ball away, and Persa covered 91 yards in 11 plays, converting a triumvirate of third downs along the way before Fields' reception gave Northwestern the lead.

Iowa then drove into Northwestern territory, but Stanzi's desperation heave to the end zone on fourth down hit the turf, sealing the win for the Wildcats.

"I could not be more proud or pleased of our senior class," Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "They will now be tied with last year's class as the winningest class in program history during the modern era. What a special day for them. They've earned it and they deserve it."

Persa's two-yard touchdown run accounted for all the scoring in the first quarter. Northwestern had a chance to extend its lead in the second quarter, but Stefan Demos missed a 40-yard field goal.

Iowa managed to get on the board late in the half as Mike Meyer made a 32-yard field goal with 24 seconds remaining.

Game Notes

Northwestern was 9-of-16 on third downs, while Iowa finished 2-of-14 on third- down conversions...Drake Dunsmore caught eight passes for 65 yards for the Wildcats...Johnson-Koulianos had 104 yards on five receptions, while McNutt made seven grabs for 72 yards...Northwestern has won five of the last six meetings.