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2019 MAC Football Week 13 Game Recap: NIU Huskies buck the WMU Broncos, win 17-14

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NIU manages to preserve a shaky lead and to put WMU’s MAC West hopes on shaky ground in one fell swoop.

Northern Illinois v Miami Ohio Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Northern Illinois Huskies upset the Western Michigan Broncos 17-14 on a wet and soggy night in DeKalb, Illinois. The Broncos (7-5, 5-3 MAC) had a chance to seal up the MAC West and earn a trip to Detroit, all they needed was a win. But the Huskies (5-7, 4-4 MAC) had other plans.

With just 2:06 remaining and NIU trying to run out the clock, quarterback Marcus Childers fumbled the ball giving Western a chance to steal the game from the Huskies’ clutches. However, after a huge pass play to DaShon Bussell that neared midfield, NIU cornerback Dillon Thomas forced a fumble that was recovered by fellow Huskie Treyshon Foster.

The turnover solidified the game for the Huskies and cut into WMU’s chances of making the MAC title game.

Now Western will need the Toledo Rockets to beat the Central Michigan Chippewas on Friday night in order to make it to win the West. CMU makes the MAC Championship Game if they win.

NIU was without quarterback Ross Bowers and running back Tre Harbison - who announced he would be transferring and not playing in the game - and relied on quarterback Marcus Childers and combination of Jordan Nettles and Marcus Jones to run the offense. But it was the Huskie defense that saved them for most of the night.

WMU had a chance to score on their first possession but, after a holding call pushed them back, they attempted a field goal. The field goal was blocked by NIU linebacker Jordan Cole keeping the game scoreless.

The Huskies would get on the board first late in the first quarter when John Richardson nailed a 44-yard field goal to give NIU a 3-0 lead. From there, the teams would combine for four straight punts.

The Broncos would once again have a chance to get some points, attempting a 46-yard field goal with 2:46 remaining in the half. This time Gavin Peddie got the kick off but it sailed wide left, keeping WMU scoreless.

NIU wouldn’t waste any time as, on their very next play, Childers pitched the ball to Tyice Richie on a sweep. Richie, on one of the Huskies’ best plays all season, was pulled down but landed on a Bronco defender and was able to get up and scamper 71-yards for a Huskie touchdown.

Bronco quarterback Jon Wassink would take his team down the field, getting into the redzone in just seven plays. But, on a first down from the NIU 13-yard line, he was strip-sacked by Matt Lorbeck for the first WMU turnover in three games. The Huskies would run out the clock, taking a 10-0 lead into halftime.

The Broncos would cut into the lead immediately after the game resumed, driving 81 yards in five plays, with LeVante Bellamy capping the drive off with his 22nd touchdown of the season, a 6-yard TD run.

From there, neither team would do much and the next eight possessions ended in punts.

After Huskie receiver Cole Tucker returned a punt to the WMU 30-yard line, the Huskies were primed to extend their lead. And, just five plays later they would. Coach Hammock pulled out some trickeration and, on a wide receiver reverse pass, Michael Love tossed a perfect ball to tight end Mitchell Brinkman for a 7-yard score. The TD gave NIU a 17-7 lead.

WMU would counter again though. Bellamy was able to get his second touchdown of the game on a 16-yard run with just under 6:30 to go in the game.

After a pair of punts, NIU had the chance to ice the game but Childers would fumble the ball with just over two minutes to go. However, on the very next play, the Huskies would get the ball back on the Bussell fumble and the Huskies finally ran out the clock.


Stats

NIU:
Total yards: 250 (93 passing, 157 rushing)
Nettles: 12 carries, 39 yards
Jones: 9 carries, 42 yards
Childers: 6/11 passing, 86 yards, 1 TD; 11 carries, 54 yards
Richie: 1 catch, 71 yards, TD
Turnovers: 2 (2 fumbles)
Penalties: 4-40

WMU:
Total yards: 348 (185 passing, 163 rushing)
Wassink: 17/33 passing, 185 yards; 8 carries, 26 yards
Bellamy: 21 carries, 128 yards, 2 TD
Skyy Moore: 9 catches, 125 yards
Turnovers: 2 (2 fumbles)
Penalties: 3-25