The Western Michigan Broncos survived a close game with the Northern Illinois Huskies, as WMU remained undefeated Saturday afternoon, claiming a 30-27 victory over the (still) winless Huskies.
With the game tied at 27, the Broncos lined up for a 24-yard field goal with 2:23 remaining for a go-ahead score. It was a nervous few moments for WMU fans after their previous kicker, Thiago Kapps, missed an extra point and field goal attempt earlier in the game. But, Gavin Peddie, who replaced Kapps in the second half, was true and the Broncos were able to hold off the Huskies on their final possession to get the win.
D’Wayne Eskridge was a huge factor for Western. The senior wide out had seven catches for 134 yards, a 27-yard run, and a huge 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that helped the Broncos hold off NIU.
Eskridge was one of just two players with a reception for WMU. Skyy Moore was the other, and he had five receptions for 76 yards.
On the ground, NIU did a decent job of stopping La’Darius Jefferson. Early in the game he busted through the line for a 43-yard touchdown run but, after that, didn’t have much going for him. Jefferson finished the game with 15 carries for 81 yards.
For the Huskies, despite the loss, it was the best game they had played all season long and it was the first time they didn’t turn the ball over. NIU also controlled the clock, winning the time of possession by a 2-1 margin (40 minutes to 20 minutes for WMU).
The Huskies ran 80 plays on offense to WMU’s 49. Ross Bowers was 22/36 on the day with 230 yards and three touchdowns and Tyrice Richie had a monster game with 12 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown.
However, the Huskies still struggled to get much on the ground and finished with 112 yards rushing. Harrison Waylee netted 68 yards on 25 carries while Erin Collins gained 40 yards on 12 rushes.
NIU tried to get the ground attack working, running it a total of 43 times, but were stuffed on 3rd-and-short multiple times which stalled a few of their drives and resulted in them not being able to pull away once they took a 24-20 lead midway through the thrid quarter.
The Huskies would push the lead to seven with 10:28 remaining in the game but the Broncos would waste no time, tying it up just 76 later on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Kaleb Eleby to Moore.
NIU is the first team to hold WMU to under 40 points this season and really slowed down this offense that was averaging 50.2 points per game and 516 yards per game. The Broncos finished the day with 325 yards to the Huskies 350 yards. They were also held to just 1-9 on third down while the Huskies were 7-21 and 4-5 on fourth down.
Next week the Huskies return home to take on the Toledo Rockets while the Broncos stay in Kalamazoo and will take on Eastern Michigan. Both games will be on Saturday, December 5th with the Huskies kicking off at noon (EST) and WMU starting a bit later at 2 p.m. (EST).