On a cold and snowy night in DeKalb, the Northern Illinois Huskies got off to a great start over the Miami RedHawks, scoring ten points in the first ten minutes of the game.
But the RedHawks (5-6, 3-4 MAC) would not be denied, as they scored 16 unanswered points and ended up on the right side of a 29-23 score, beating the Huskies who fell to 3-8 (2-5 MAC).
Miami’s first two drives, with a heavy snow falling, were quick 3-and-outs; while the Huskies were able to make it work on the ground. NIU struck first after a 52-yard run by Jaiden Credle set up a shot field goal from John Richardson. Then, on their next possession, Nevan Cremascoli found Liam Soragham for a 13-yard touchdown pass to give NIU an early 10-0 lead.
After another Miami punt, the Huskies started at their own three yard line. On a read-option play, Harrison Waylee and Cremascoli both held on to the ball which was then fumbled in the endzone. Waylee, scrambling, kicked the ball forward, out of bounds, resulting in a safety and giving Miami their first points of the game.
From there, the snow began to fade and so did the Huskie offense. After their first two drives, NIU netted just 11 yards in the first half while the RedHawk offense began to figure things out - led by backup quarterback Aveon Smith.
Smith, besides throwing for 185 yards and a touchdown, led the team in rushing - carrying the rock 20 times for 141 yards and scoring the first two Miami TDs - a 10-yard and then a 15-yard scramble - with the latter giving the RedHawks a 16-10 lead with just over 30 seconds remaining in the half.
The Huskies started the second half with a quick strike of their own, when Cremascoli found a wide open Kacper Rutkiewicz for a 53-yard touchdown, giving the Huskies a 17-16 lead less than a minute into the third quarter.
After the teams traded punts, Miami would drive down the field and snag a 44-yard field goal to go up 19-17. From there, they would never look back. Their defense would force two NIU 3-and-outs in a row before they were able to drive 79-yards in seven plays and extend their lead to 26-17. On a third and long, Smith found Mac Hippenhammer for a 53-yard touchdown. The RedHawks had no problems on third down, converting 7 of their 17 3rd down plays.
However, NIU would counter just two plays later, when Antario Brown broke through the defense and ran 86-yards untouched to the endzone. The Huskies botched the snap on the point after, which kept the score 26-23.
After punts by both teams, Miami was able to use good field position to move into scoring range and extend their lead to six points, when Nicholson hit a 24-yard attempt.
The Huskies got the ball back, down six, with just over six minutes to go. They put together a decent drive and even got near the redzone, setting up at the Miami 25 yard line. After a holding penalty, Cremascoli dropped to pass on 2nd and 20. His pass was picked off by John Suanders Jr. on a great diving catch, which ended the Huskie threat and allowed Miami to run out the clock.
The RedHawks will need a win next Tuesday, when they face off against the Ball State Cardinals in their final game of the season. NIU will stay at home to finish out the season when they take on the Akron Zips next Saturday, on November 26th.