Another year, another November win for the Northern Illinois Huskies (8-3, 6-1).
On a night when they could take firm control of the MAC West race, the Huskies downed the Western Michigan Broncos (6-5, 5-2) to move either a win over Ohio or a Toledo loss to WMU next week away from their sixth straight MAC Championship appearance.
It started slowly for the Huskies. They were forced to punt and the Broncos drove down the field looking to score. However, after forcing a field goal try to make it 3-0, Ryan Graham picked up two 3rd down conversions and a 4th down conversion, hitting Aregeros Turner on 3rd-and-12 for a 27-yard score.
And after a punt for the Broncos pinned the Huskies deep on their own 13 yard line, they scored again on a Jordan Huff 87-yard run off tackle to make it 14-3 early in the 2nd quarter. And despite giving up a long touchdown drive to the WMU on the ensuing drive - one that ended on a Daniel Braverman touchdown - the Huskies held on another drive to send themselves to the half up 14-10.
On the first drive of the 2nd half, Corey Davis fell down on a route allowing Albert Smalls to make an easy interception. The Bronco defense would hold NIU to no points, but the continuous wear was starting to show.
The Western Michigan offense would come to life after that. They would get held to another field goal on the ensuing drive, and after holding NIU to a punt, would score on a 72-yard catch-and-run play to Davis to retake the lead at 19-14 late in the 3rd.
But when the 4th quarter rolled around, it was all Huskies.
NIU dominated both sides of the ball. First, they put together a 12 play, 93 yard scoring answer to retake the lead. They would get the ball right back off a fumbled kickoff by Fabian Johnson, but Nathan Braster would block a long field goal attempt to keep it 20-19. The next drive would stall yet again, but J Schroeder would pin NIU on their own 3.
Not a problem. In just three plays (a long run by Huff, a rush for no gain, and a deep ball to Golladay), the Huskies scored the insurance to make it 27-19. The Broncos would drive down the field but would fail to score from the 2 yard line, and a sack plus holding penalty ruined a last ditch effort for a comeback as the Huskies held on.
Graham finished 11-for-23 for 158 yards and two scores. He threw an interception on a Hail Mary to pretty much end the 1st half, but really didn't make any bad mistakes. Huff had 159 yards on just 8 carries and the long score. Joel Bouagnon had 70 yards on 21 carries and a score. Golladay had 93 yards on just 4 catches and a score.
For the Broncos, Braverman and Davis led the receiving corps with 126 and 123 yards respectively. Each had a score, and Braverman had more catches than Davis (9 vs 7). Jamauri Bogan led the rushing attack, with 70 yards on 15 carries. Back-up QB Tom Flacco had 35 yards on 8 carries, and was widely used in "wildcat" formations. Terrell was 21-for-37 for 331 yards and two scores. His lone interception came when Davis slipped, but missed on some late throws and was sacked often.
The Broncos are now pretty much done for the year. They face Toledo on Black Friday and with just 6 wins, potentially could be left out of a bowl. The Huskies, as stated before, are either a win or a Toledo loss away from their 6th straight West Title and a third straight MAC Championship game against Bowling Green.