NIU scored two defensive touchdowns to go along with their five offensive scores on a cold and rainy day in DeKalb that saw the Huskies claim their sixth-straight victory over Akron.
The Huskies powered their way to nearly 300 rushing yards between Tre Harbison, Jordan Nettles, and Marcus Childers. Northern racked up 274 rushing yards on 62 carries, with Harbison getting the bulk of those touches. Harbison finished the day with two touchdowns and 158 yards on 31 rushes while Nettles carried the ball 12 times for 71 yards and Childers had nine attempts for 36 yards.
Childers wasn’t called on to pass much in the terrible weather but, when he was, he looked pretty good; finishing the day with 71 yards and three touchdowns (all to tight ends) on 7/9 passing.
The Huskie defense even got in on the action, scoring twice in the second half. The first score came when Trayshon Foster recovered a fumble in the endzone after the Zips bobbled a handoff at the 2-yard line. Then, midway through the fourth quarter, linebacker Nick Rattin jumped in front of a Robbie Kelley pass and returned it 31-yards to the house, putting the Huskies up 49-0.
Akron used three different quarterbacks on the day, with Zach Gibson starting before leaving early in the second half with an apparent shoulder injury. None of the three could get anything going in the inclement weather as the trio went a combined 7/26 for 51 yards and threw two interceptions. Gibson was just 4/15 for 36 yards and a pick, T.J. DeShields was 2/4 for 11 yards, and Robbie Kelley was just 1/7 for four yards and threw a pick-six.
Brandon Lee was able to find some holes in the Huskie defense at points, as the halfback rushed for 76 yards on 10 carries, but overall this Akron offense couldn’t manage much.
The 49-point spread is the largest in the series history, surpassing the 36-point one that NIU claimed in a 50-14 win back in 2010.
Next week the Zips will look to get back on the scoreboard when they play at Bowling Green, who has been struggling themselves this season. The Huskies will take on CMU in a pivotal MAC West showdown.
Total yards: 145 (51 passing, 94 rushing)
Lee: 10 carries, 76 yards
Gibson: 4/15 passing, 36 yards, INT
Julian Hicks: 3 catches, 22 yards
Total yards: 345 (71 passing, 274 rushing)
Harbison: 31 carries, 158 yards, 2 TDs
Childers: 7/9 passing, 71 yards, 3 TD; 9 carries, 36 yards
Mitchell Brinkman: 2 catches, 36 yards, TD