NIU and CMU both started this contest in search of a closer. Each team had slugged it out with the heavyweights the last two weeks only to end up like Billy Conn in his elusive search for the championship belt against the Brown Bomber. Just like Conn, both the Huskies and the Chips battled the heavily favored P5 elites to within an inch of victory only to be turned away in heartbreaking manners. The difference in these contests has been the lack of a key player to make a key play and turn the momentum in favor of the team from the MAC late in the game.
Of course, there is always a common opponent once the witch of October unleashes her winds at Kelly/Shorts stadium. NIU quarterback Drew Hare and CMU quarterback Cooper Rush had their work cut out for them dealing with gusts up to 30 miles per hour. A ground game appeared to clearly favor the visiting Huskies as they had out gained the Chips by a 2:1 margin thru their first four games. To make matters worse for Cooper Rush and the pass heavy Chips, a cold rain began to fall before kickoff.
It was Drew Hare and the Huskies that drew first blood courtesy of a Cooper Rush pick deep in CMU territory. A one yard plunge capped the 23 yard drive as NIU capitalized on Rush ' s soggy generousity.
CMU would sputter on its next drive. A long return on a Ron Coluzzi punt put NIU right back in business on the CMU 32. A classic Tommylee Lewis jet sweep put the ball on the CMU 17 yard line, but the Huskies could do no more and settled for a 32 yard field goal from Christian Hagan to put them up 10-0.
The Chips responded with a scoring drive via a career long 44 yard field goal by Brian Eavey. Several dropped passes due to wet footballs limited the Chips to anything further.
A missed 48 yard field goal attempt by Christian Hagan ended the first quarter with the Huskies up 10-3.
Quarter number two would start with the Chips getting the wind and good field position. It did them no good. Neither team would do much until NIU drove to the CMU one yard line late in the half. The Chips held on fourth and one and had a chance to end the half on a high note. Poor clock management eventually did the Chips in following a shanked NIU punt by Jake Ambrose. A Ron Coluzzi 42 yard field goal attempt went wide as time expired and NIU had survived the first half with a 10-3 lead.
The closer so far was the Huskies' Drew Hare, who had 57 net yards on the ground. The ball had also bounced NIU's way on recovered water soaked fumbles. NIU would have to hope that it's luck held in the second half.
Fate was on the Chips' side to start the third quarter. It was NIU's turn to turn the ball over. This time, on a fumble deep in its own territory. A nine yard TD strike from Cooper Rush to Jesse Kroll knotted the score at 10-10.
The Huskies took the following kickoff and returned it to the CMU 29 yard line. NIU once again drove to the CMU one yard line where another Huskie drive stalled. A field goal from 26 yards gave NIU another lead, 13-10.
An 11 play 59 yard CMU scoring drive featured a Brian Eavey 28 yard field goal. The score tied the game again at 13-13. Then, the rain came again. In fact the following kickoff slipped right thru the Huskie returner 's hands and slid out of the end zone.
Drew Hare lost a slippery ball on the NIU 23 yard line. Rush and Kroll made the Huskies pay with a TD strike and the Chips had their first lead 20-13.
The Huskies then tried Ryan Graham at quarterback. Tim Hamilton of CMU ruined Graham's introduction into the game with a pick on the NIU 31 yard line. Three plays later, Jahray Hayes had his first career touchdown from four yards out and the Chips went up 26-13. A wet ball caused a muffed PAT. The third quarter ended with CMU up 26-13, but the Huskies would get the wind for the final quarter.
The wind could not stop Brian Eavey on the Chips' first drive of the fourth quarter. A 41 yard kick shook off the wind and rain to give CMU a 29-13 lead.
A three yard touchdown run by Joel Bouagnon brought the Huskies back to within 10 points at 8:46 of the fourth quarter. It looked like it was going to be very interesting the rest of the way.
Drew Hare did not disappoint leading the Huskies on an action packed drive inside the CMU 40 yard line. A fourth down scramble by Hare ended in a fumble giving the Chips the ball at their own 42 with 4:12 to play. The question was who would be the closer?
The Chips went conservative. The Huskies burned their time outs and took over at their own 29 yard line with 3:30 to play. The Chips found their closer in Blake Serpa as he fell on yet another slick ball dropped by Drew Hare and the Chips ran the clock down to 0:40. The Chips took over on downs to give head coach Bono his first MAC victory.