Persa was 23-of-30 through the air on the afternoon with one interception. Jeremy Ebert caught five balls for 83 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats (4-0) who have now won seven consecutive regular-season games. Jacob Schmidt picked up two rushing touchdowns.
Ryan Radcliffe was 29-of-43 through the air for the Chippewas (2-2) for 347 yards and two touchdowns, but was also picked off twice. Kito Poblah caught six balls for 89 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
Persa found Ebert with a 24-yard scoring strike to give Northwestern an early lead. However, the extra point was blocked, leaving the score at 6-0.
Cody Wilson responded for Central Michigan with a 31-yard touchdown dash with just under three minutes left in the period. The extra point for CMU was also denied, leaving the score knotted at six.
Northwestern got the lead back midway through the second quarter when Schmidt went in from a yard out, but Radcliffe found Carl Volny for a 16-yard touchdown throw with just over a minute left before halftime. The two schools eventually went into the break with a 13-13 tie.
Stefan Demos gave Northwestern a 16-13 lead on a 27-yard field goal with just over nine minutes remaining in the third frame, and added a 25-yard scoring strike from Persa to Ebert just 16 seconds later.
Schmidt ran 13 yards for a touchdown to extend Northwestern’s lead to 30-13 early in the fourth quarter.
The defending Mid-American Conference champions made things respectable in the final minutes.
Volny ran two yards for a score midway through the final frame and Poblah caught a 25-yard pass from Radcliffe with just over a minute remaining in regulation to make it a 30-25 game.
Northwestern recovered the subsequent onside kick and ran out the clock.
The two teams combined for 852 yards in total offense. Northwestern was 11- of-17 on third-down conversions, while Central Michigan finished just 2-of-10.