Persa, Kerrigan earn Big Ten top player honors

Published 6:30 am Thursday, November 18, 2010

PARK RIDGE, Ill. — Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa and Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan have been named the Big Ten Conference offensive and defensive players of the week respectively.

Dan Persa, Northwestern
JR, QB, Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty

Persa set career highs with 43 attempts, 32 completions and 318 passing yards and was responsible for three touchdowns, the last of which completed Northwestern’s rally from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to edge nationally ranked Iowa. The junior quarterback completed 74.4 percent of his passes and added 50 rushing yards, including a two-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. The Hawkeyes responded to take a 17-7 lead into the fourth quarter before Persa led Northwestern on touchdown drives of 85 and 91 yards in the final stanza. He ended the first drive with a six-yard scoring toss with less than seven minutes remaining to pull within 17-14.
After getting the ball back with just four minutes left in the game, Persa led an 11-play, 91-yard drive, capped by a 20-yard scoring strike with 1:22 on the clock for the victory. The Pennsylvania native suffered a season-ending injury on the game-winning score and ends his season completing 73.5 percent of his passes, a new school and Big Ten record. Persa earns the first weekly accolade of his career.

Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
SR, DE, Muncie, Ind./Muncie Central

Kerrigan established career highs with 10 solo tackles, five tackles for loss and four sacks while forcing two fumbles and recovering one against Michigan. The senior defensive end now has 14 career forced fumbles, which is tied for the NCAA record and marks a new Big Ten record, shattering the previous mark of 13 set by Illinois’ Simeon Rice (1992-95) and Iowa’s Bob Sanders (2000-03). Kerrigan pushed the Wolverine offense back 17 yards on his five tackles for loss, including 15 yards on his four sacks. Michigan entered the game ranking among the top 12 nationally with 38.9 points and 535.9 yards of total offense per game but was limited to 27 points and 395 yards of total offense by the Boilermaker defense. Purdue also forced five turnovers and was within four points, at 20-16, before the Wolverines scored a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. Kerrigan set Big Ten season-bests with his five tackles for loss and four sacks. He collects his second weekly laurel after being honored on Oct. 18, 2009.

Special Teams:
Troy Stoudermire, Minnesota
JR, KR/PR, Dallas, Texas/Skyline

Stoudermire returned a pair of kickoffs for 112 yards at Illinois, including a 90-yard return in the fourth quarter to help Minnesota rally from a 10-point deficit and pick up its first conference victory. After Illinois took a 34-24 lead with roughly eight minutes left in the game, the junior cornerback returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to give the Gophers a first-and-goal at the four-yard line. Minnesota scored a touchdown two plays later and added another score with 16 seconds left to claim a 38-34 lead. Stoudermire sealed the victory with an interception as time expired. The Texas native currently holds the Big Ten record with 2,920 career kickoff return yards and ranks second with 114 returns. Stoudermire picks up his first career weekly award.

James White, Wisconsin
FR, RB, Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas

White broke loose for 144 yards on 19 carries with a pair of touchdowns to help the Wisconsin offense tally 83 points against Indiana, the most points in a Big Ten contest since 1950. With reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year John Clay out with injury, White averaged 7.6 yards per attempt to produce his third game of 100 or more rushing yards. The freshman running back’s effort was one yard shy of his career high of 145 yards set against Austin Peay on Sept. 25. He now has 714 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. White earns his third Freshman of the Week accolade this season after being honored on Sept. 27 and Oct. 4.