clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2011 Sippin' on Purple Awards: Play of the Year

Remember my halfhearted effort at creating a Sippin' on Purple awards show, where we named the rookie of the year Mike Trumpy? Yeah, neither did I.
But the as-of-yet unnamed awards (my suggestions: the Sippy's, the F*cksaws, the Flockas) carries on after a hiatus, and we're going to keep doing them as long as I need things to post about because it's May and nothing is happening besides us not knowing who is hosting Dillo Day and too much rain.

So let's take a look at the goodness that went down this year, specifically, which of the things featuring goodness was the best thing. For a 7-6 football team, NU had a disturbing amount of highlight reel nonsense go down, by which I mean NU had approximately as many unbelievable plays this season as they had in the 2010 Outback Bowl. I highlighted five plays that I thought were the dopest: voting criteria is up to you. Does "best" mean most epic? Most physically impressive? Maybe your definition of how good something can be is totally based on whether or not Mike Trumpy is involved. I don't know, you're a pretty weird dude. Either way, I'll tell you what I got.


3:06 mark

So Northwestern was trailing against Minnesota. YEAH IT HAPPENED I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT. That said, they totally were trailing, and things did not look good, because, well, if you lose to Minnesota, problems problems problems. In the fourth quarter, the Cats trailed 28-20, meaning they were the same amount of points down that could be scored with a touchdown and two-point conversion. Incidentally, touchdowns are good, and somebody told this to Jeremy Ebert. Several things make this play epic:

1. Its third and seven. If they don't pick this up, are you in four-down territory? Probs. But fourth downs scare us because you mights lose if you don't pick it up.

2. Minnesota brings the freakin house. Seven blitzers. (This, of course, luckily for us, means someone is in single coverage on Jeremy Ebert.) The line and Jacob Schmidt combine to pick up six of those fools. One of them absolutely TRUCKS Dan Persa a little bit over two seconds after he receives the snap in the shotgun. It's clear upon watching the replay that Dan Persa's first instinct is "OH CRAP I'M ABOUT TO TAKE THIS HIT" before he realizes "well, maybe I should chuck this about 30-ish yards without stepping into it as a jump ball to my wide receiver." So he does.

3. Calling this a jump ball is being generous. The ball is very, very, very clearly destined to be caught by Minneosta's sophomore defensive back Michael Carter. Hits him in the hands, basically, while he's jumping backwards.


For the few seconds that the ball was in midair, chaos, fear, hatred. When he came down with it, SportsCenter top ten. Jeremy Ebert legitimately SONNED a Minneosta defensive back, and it led to a 29-28 comeback lead. Boom.

Dan Persa's McNabb Moment (alternate title: Danavan McNabb)

1:02 mark

Remember that play a few years back from an Eagles-Cowboys game where Donovan McNabb ran left, right, then left, avoided 14 tackles, and then, just like he drew it up, nonchalantly chucked a ball 40 yards downfield to hit his receiver in stride? Yes. You do. And you considered repenting, knowing that the creature doing that thing is clearly some sort of higher power who could and would smite you in a fit of football throwing fury if he friggin felt like it.

Dan Persa didn't do that, but he came close on his first touchdown pass against Indiana. The offensive line had a whoops moment: faced with a four-man rush, Persa is forced to flush to his left after nobody is initially open.

However, after a moment headed that way, he makes that annoying noise Chris Berman makes when people juke each other out, and speeds past those three lames easily. Now he's sprinting full speed to his right, only to find that the one guy that the offensive line did manage to initially prevent from hounding him to the left is now about to tackle him. So he does what I would do, and makes a pinpoint perfect pass while jumping in the middle of a dead sprint over the top of one linebacker and out of the reach of another to hit your receiver streaking across the back of a zone defense in the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown.

During the initial broadcast, they replayed this from a few different angles, and I'm still not sure how a person can do this. If I attempted to, I would have gotten sacked by all four linemen and thrown an interception to both defenders in the vicinity of Jeremy Ebert. Instead, Persa eludes all of them and while running improvises a play dependent on an extremely precise throw. And it works.

"One Hand", by Drake Dunsmore feat. Waka Flocka Flame, Roscoe Dash, and Wale

2:30 mark

There was a time Northwestern led Penn State 21-0. You know, in that game we lost 35-21.

The 15h-20th points of that 21-point lead came on one of the more absurd catches we've ever seen. We all know about Drake Dunsmore: you know, that guy who nobody has ever tackled ever by themselves, and the man who personally murdered all of Auburn on one play in the Outback Bowl, that game we won.

He was not satisfied with his highlights. Up 14-0, third and seven. This might look like a bad throw by Dan Persa, but truth is Dunsmore is in tight coverage - note the fact that the defensive back's arm touches his left shoulder, anything "more accurate" might have gotten picked - so Persa Evan Watkinses it a little bit out of his reach. Or, technically not out of his reach, because he holds on with one arm, then brings down both feet inbounds to make sure it's a touchdown on Sunday's, Ross Lane style.

Then NU decided to completely blow the lead and make us all really depressed and forget about the game and pretend it never happened. But let us remember that moment, for it was dope.


You mighta read what I wrote bout this over at Off Tackle Empire, because they felt this was the play that defined NU's season. (I obviously am more ambivalent.)

In terms of sheer epicness, I gotta admit this is the runaway winner. It seals a comeback victory over a ranked rival on a game-winning touchdown throw at home on senior day, also, the best player on the team suffered a season ending injury in ways we still don't fully understand. But just to leave it at that takes away from how sick a play this is: Persa's under pressure, rolling away from Adrian Clayborn - yeah, that Adrian Clayborn - to his right, but manages to toss up a perfect throw to the corner of the end zone jussssst hitting Demetrius Fields out of the reach of a defender on the left corner of the end zone. The mind, it boggles.

Brian Peters and the End Zone of Death (rejected Harry Potter title)

:28 mark

Not the most dramatic play, no, but, it was the one Northwestern play that made ESPN's season recap video they played before the National Championship game.

It was highly silly that we played a game at Wrigley Field where offenses only operated in one direction. Highly, highly silly. Thus was born the End Zone of Death. No field goals would be kicked on the silly goalpost strapped on to the ivy, but on the plus side, no wide receivers would suffer fatal death accidents making touchdown catches like the Drake Dunsmore one up there. (Although to be fair, Dunsmore would probably knock down that wall, then sue the Cubs for not making stronger obstacles.)

Brian Peters does not approve of silliness. Luckily, Ron Zook does, which is why about ten minutes into the game - at which point the Illini had already put up over 100 yards on the ground on 10 carries, including three 20-plus yard runs and two touchdowns, without having thrown a pass the entire time - Zook called an play action end-around to his backup quarterback, Eddie McGee. ZOOK. It worked swimmingly, as the entire NU defense swarmed on McGee, who had no receivers open. As he got clocked by Damien Proby, he unleashed a pass for which the only question was "which NU defender will return this for an interception). The answer was Peters, who didn't have a chance in hell of getting touched by anybody - the nearest Illini-turned-defender was McGee, who was on his rectum.

Then we lost.