The Northern Illinois Huskies snapped a five game losing skid with their 39-10 victory over the Eastern Michigan Eagles today as starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi made his return for NIU.
The Huskies (2-5, 1-2 MAC) also won their first conference game of the season and their second straight game over the Eagles, who dropped to 4-3 (1-2 MAC).
Northern’s offense began the game with third string quarterback Justin Lynch starting but then used a rotating mixture of Lynch, Lombardi, and the wildcat formation that proved to be very successful for them.
However, it was NIU’s defense started the scoring early on when James Ester batted a pass up in the endzone and then intercepted it for a pick six on EMU’s first possession of the game.
Eastern would waste no time and tie it up just one play later when Taylor Powell found Andreas Paaske for a 75-yard score.
After the teams traded punts, Northern would score on a big play of their own. Antario Brown broke free and scored on a 47-yard scamper to put the Huskies up 14-7. From there, they would never look back, leading the rest of the way.
In the second quarter, Huskie kicker John Richardson would hit two field goals - from 41 and 39 yards - and push the lead to 20-7 at the half.
The Eagles would cut into the lead some at the start of the second half, when Jesus Gomez was perfect on a 46-yard field goal attempt. But, from there, the Huskies would go on a 19-0 run, scoring two more touchdowns and netting two more field goals.
Both touchdowns came on the ground, as Brown ran one in from six yards out and then Waylee had the Huskies’ longest play of the season, scoring on a 76-yard touchdown run. Richardson ended the day 4-4 for NIU and was also 4-4 on extra points.
NIU’s defense actually showed up today, limiting EMU to just 29 rushing yards and 197 total yards. Eastern was also just 2-13 on third downs against a Huskie defense that allowed foes to convert more than 50% of the time coming into this game. The Huskies also got pressure on Powell, sacking him five times and forcing two quarterback hurries.
The Eagles did have a few bright spots of their own though. Jose Ramirez, the reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Week, had two more sacks in the first half of the game and finished with four total tackles.
They also outgained NIU in the air, throwing for 197 yards, with Passke and Dylan Drummond having solid games. Paaske finished with 75 yards and the only EMU touchdown while Drummond had 60 yards on his three catches.
Next week, Eastern Michigan takes on the Ball State Cardinals in Muncie, Indiana. As for the Huskies, they’ll travel to Athens to take on the Ohio Bobcats.
NIU - 410 (287 rushing, 123 passing)
EMU - 226 (29 rushing, 197 passing)
Time of Possession:
NIU - 39:06
EMU - 20:54
NIU - 0
EMU - 2
Lombardi - 11/15, 115 yards
Lynch - 1/1, 8 yards; 8 carries, 38 yards
Waylee - 16 carries, 158 yards, 1 TD
Brown - 17 carries, 86 yards, 2 TD
Powell - 11/23, 197 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Jackson - 16 carries, 60 yards
Evans - 4 carries, 4 yards
Drummond - 3 catches, 60 yards
Paaske - 1 catch, 75 yards, 1 TD