On a day when Group of Five favorite Houston lost, the Western Michigan Broncos made sure they took another step closer to the elusive MAC Championship.
In front of a packed crowd of over 28,000 fans, P.J. Fleck’s team finally got over the NIU hump in a 45-30 win. The Huskies had won 7 straight over the Broncos, dating back to September, 2008. Since then, the Huskies have won 6 straight MAC West Championships, and even have gone to the Orange Bowl. They have pummeled WMU teams - good and bad - so it didn’t come easy.
Anthony Maddie put on a show. The former WMU quarterback, who has seen a roller coaster of a career that has seen a transfer and a position change to (and from) wide receiver, did all he could to keep his Huskies in it. But no matter how hard he tried, NIU never led.
The Broncos came out and struck early, with WMU quarterback Zach Terrell finding Jarvion Franklin on a wheel route for a score. Later in the quarter, he found Corey Davis for a catch, which put the senior wide-out in sole possession of the Western Michigan reception touchdown list.
The Huskies would score on a quick swing run by Christian Blake, but the Broncos would counter following a scary play by Terrell. Before Franklin put the WMU up 21-7, Terrell sacrificed himself to try and score. However, he was met head-on by a Huskie defender, and fumbled the ball. Somehow, though, he recovered the ball to keep the Bronco turnover count at 0 on the season.
After that, NIU stormed back. 13 answered points made it a 21-20 game early in the 3rd, with a Wimann pass providing the lone touchdown and field goals bookending the halftime intermission. The two teams would trade field goals before the separating scores put it away.
First, Davis would make a spectacular one-handed catch in the corner of the end zone to make it 31-23. Then, after a punt gave the Broncos the ball back, Davon Tucker scored on a 22-yard run to make it 38-23. Both quarterbacks would add touchdown runs on their next drives, but Maddie would throw a pair of interceptions to keep NIU from making it any closer.
Maddie finished 14-for-30 with 224 yards and a score. He did throw two interceptions, but they came late in the game, with the second being mostly inconsequential. He added 111 yards on the ground, with a score. Kenny Golladay had 99 yards on 5 catches, and was targeted 10 times. Aregeros Turner added 51 yards on 3 catches, and Wimann had the lone touchdown catch. Jordan Huff and Joel Bouagnon added 79 and 59 yards on 9 and 11 carries respectively.
For the Broncos, Terrell was fantastic, going 18-for-24 for 327 yards and a trio of scores. His love was spread between Davis (6 catches, 122 yards, 2 scores) and Michael Henry (5 catches, 60 yards). He was aided by a strong game from Jarvion Franklin, who did another bulk load game with Jamauri Bogan and LeVante Bellamy still sidelined with injuries. Franklin had 169 yards on 31 carries for a score and added 80 yards on 3 catches and a receiving score. Tucker added 52 yards on the ground, but on just 6 carries.
The Huskies head back to Dekalb next weekend to face Central Michigan, who have been the only team during the Huskies’ 6-year reign to figure them out on a semi-consistent basis. The Broncos head to Akron to face the MAC East favorite Zips.