If I told you that a team forced a fumble in overtime and only needed a field goal from a kicker who was 5/5 going into the game, you would think that team would have won, right? Well, you would also be wrong. It almost seemed like neither team wanted to win.
Northern Illinois quarterback Marcus Childers threw for 121 yards but also threw two interceptions. Unfortunately for the Eagles’ offense, Eastern Michigan was only able to get a field goal out of those two interceptions. Eastern Michigan quarterback Tyler Wiegers threw 180 yards but didn’t throw any picks. Northern Illinois’ stout defense was able to sack him three times, but at the same time, Eastern Michigan’s pass rush was able to get at Childers.
I wouldn’t say that Northern Illinois ran roughshod over Eastern Michigan but they were able to rush for enough yards to make a difference. Tre Harbison, the eventual hero of the night, added 136 yards to his rushing total. Also, Northern Illinois quarterback Marcus Childers ran for 5 yards more than Eastern Michigan’s leading rusher Shaq Vann.
Eastern Michigan ran out to a 10-0 lead, but Northern Illinois chopped away at that lead until they tied the game with a Marcus Jones run from the 2-yard line with a little over 4 minutes in the second half. When the clock reached zero in the first half, Northern Illinois claimed a three-point lead — its first of the evening — after drilling a field goal.
The game remained in Northern Illinois’ favor until Eastern Michigan kicker Chad Ryland field goal forced overtime with 3 seconds in the game.
Eastern Michigan struck blood first after a long Shaq Vann rushing touchdown around the left end, complete with an impressive stiff arm. The game was tied again after Marcus Childers connected with tight end Ty Harmston for a 11 yard pass for a touchdown.
On the next Northern Illinois scoring opportunity, Eastern Michigan’s Jaylen Pickett forced a fumble just several yards from the goal line. Cornerback Kevin McGill recovered to set up what appeared to be a clear path to an Eastern Michigan victory, but Ryland’s field goal hooked right.
In third overtime, Eastern Michigan regained a 23-20 lead after a Chad Ryland field goal. But the defense couldn’t stop Tre Harbison and the run, so Northern Illinois would go on to win 26-23.
The Huskies and Eagles now share 2-3 records, but Northern Illinois is in better position to go to Detroit, as the Huskies sport a 2-0 conference record while Eastern Michigan is 0-2.