EVANSTON, Ill. -- Dan Persa threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score to lead Northwestern past Illinois State 37-3 Saturday.
Persa was 19 of 23 for 240 yards, and Drake Dunsmore caught both his TD passes. Arby Fields ran for 96 yards and a touchdown run for the Wildcats (2-0).
Matt Brown passed for 138 yards for the Redbirds (1-1) but was intercepted twice, both times by Quentin Davie. Corbin Bryant also had an interception, and Vince Browne recorded two of Northwestern's three sacks.
The Wildcats scored on their first three possessions and led 30-3 at halftime.
Persa directed Northwestern on a 15-play, 89-yard scoring drive on its opening possession, capped by a 4-yard TD pass to Dunsmore. Persa scored on a 1-yard run on the Wildcats' next possession and connected with Dunsmore again just before halftime on a 5-yard TD strike.
Persa played only one series in the second half, when both teams substituted liberally.
Mike Trumpy added a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for the Wildcats, who also recovered two Illinois State fumbles.
Steven Fetzer had a first-quarter field goal for the Redbirds.
Northwestern compiled 333 of its 434 total yards in the first half and limited Illinois State to 263 yards.