Football: Senior superback Drake Dunsmore the ‘difference-maker’ against Indiana

Colin Becht

In a game of notable offensive performances, Drake Dunsmore’s was superior.

The senior superback had a day for the record books in Northwestern’s 59-38 defeat of Indiana, breaking school records for career receiving yards by a tight end and touchdown catches in a game.

“Obviously Drake Dunsmore having just a huge game today was the difference-maker,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

As the Wildcats turned Saturday’s contest into a rout, Dunsmore’s name appeared repeatedly. The Lenexa, Kan. native caught four touchdowns in a span of 16 minutes and nine seconds over the second and third quarters. Dunsmore became the go-to target of both quarterbacks Dan Persa and Kain Colter, a bond that Colter said is strengthened by the superback’s extra practice reps with the two.

“After practice if we ever want to run some extra routes, he’s always up for that,” Colter said. “As far as for me and Dan having that chemistry with Drake on the field, it’s great.”

After catching a 22-yard touchdown pass from Persa early in the second quarter, Dunsmore set his first record of the game with his second touchdown reception. The 10-yard completion from Persa, in which Dunsmore caught the ball using only his right arm while fending off a defender with his left, pushed Dunsmore over 1,365 career receiving yards and past former record-holder Jon Harvey.

“The guy’s got hands, and when we can isolate him on a corner, or get the matchup that we want, he’s a big body,” senior running back Jacob Schmidt said. “He made the plays. He had a heck of a day.”

Dunsmore finished the game with 1,373 receiving yards in his career, and he still has at least four more games left at NU. But Dunsmore said he doesn’t see his record standing for long.

“There are a lot of good tight ends coming through this program,” Dunsmore said. “So that record will be broken pretty soon.”

For three minutes in the third quarter, Dunsmore had singlehandedly amassed more points than the entire Indiana team, and with a better defensive performance from the Cats, he might have accomplished the one-man victory. Dunsmore’s four touchdown grabs were the most by a NU player in school history. He also became just the third player in the FBS this season with four or more touchdown catches in the same game.

Dunsmore finished the contest with seven receptions for 112 yards, including a 45-yard catch-and-run early in the first quarter that set up freshman running back Treyvon Green for a one-yard touchdown rush.

Dunsmore consistently found open space on corner routes, so much space that he at times seemed unguarded, such as on his fourth touchdown of the game, a nine-yard completion from Colter.

“We had a lot of tight zone plays and the coverage they were playing dictated the coaches’ calls and they happened to call my number,” Dunsmore said. “When we were running corners, their safeties were kind of tucked in so (the outside routes) kind of opened up.”

At six-foot-three and 235 pounds, Dunsmore presents a unique challenge to the opposing defense, which must decide whether to match Dunsmore’s size by putting a linebacker on him or his speed by covering him with a safety. Neither option seemed to work on Saturday.

“He’s a big body, he’s a real athletic tight end which is just great,” Colter said. “Whether there’s a safety on him or a linebacker on him, it’s going to be a mismatch so we just get him the ball.”

[email protected]