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Northwestern stomps Rice, moves one win from bowl-eligibility

Northwestern wide receiver Jeremy Ebert celebrates with offensive lineman Brian Mulroe (72) after scoring touchdown against Rice.  |

Northwestern wide receiver Jeremy Ebert celebrates with offensive lineman Brian Mulroe (72) after scoring a touchdown against Rice. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

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Updated: December 14, 2011 8:32AM

Northwestern is inching one step closer to being bowl-eligible after beating Rice 28-6 in a nonconference tilt at Ryan Field Saturday.

The Wildcats need one more win to be bowl-eligible for the fifth consecutive season. They have two games remaining, against Minnesota and Michigan State, both in Evanston.

The Wildcats (5-5) were aiming for their first shutout since the 2007 season opener when they beat Northeastern 27-0 at Ryan Field. The last time NU shut out a Football Bowl Subdivision school was in 1997 when they beat Oklahoma 24-0 in the season opener.

Dan Persa’s 90-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Ebert in the first quarter was the second-longest pass play from scrimmage in NU history and the longest of Persa’s career. The play surpassed Ebert’s 81-yard touchdown grab from Kain Colter at Nebraska last week in the NU record books.

Ebert’s second touchdown catch — a 17-yard pass from Persa — ranked the senior receiver second on NU’s list for touchdown catches in a season with 10. Ebert is behind leader D’Wayne Bates, who had 12 touchdown catches in 1996.

Ebert ended the day with 208 yards on seven catches and two touchdowns. Ebert’s yardage ties him for third on the NU single game list for receiving yardage in a game. Ebert is tied with Jon Harvey, who had 208 yards against Michigan in 1972.

Persa set career highs in passing yardage (372) and tied his career high for touchdown passes with four.

Rice falls to 3-7.

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