NIU faithful went home happy with a homecoming victory over Buffalo Saturday, 45-14.
The score wasn't a true testament of how oddly the game played out though.
The first half between the Huskies (5-2 overall, 3-0 MAC) and Bulls (2-3, 1-1) was close for the most part.
Buffalo's defense put pressure on Huskie quarterback Chandler Harnish, who threw two touchdown passes but also had two interceptions.
"That's a credit to [Buffalo], they did a great job in the secondary," Harnish said.
NIU came out firing on both sides of the ball, scoring 24 points while shutting out the Bulls' offense.
"We haven't been able to finish games in the second half," said Buffalo head coach Jeff Quinn.
Special team units had an impact on the game but their play wasn't particularly special.
NIU senior kicker Michael Cklamovski missed three field goals, all of which trailed to the right.
Two of Cklamvoski's failed attempts came from chip-shot distances of 25 and 26 yards.
For Buffalo, punter Jacob Schum was harassed by NIU's return unit.
Freshman defensive back Jimmie Ward continued to turn heads with his second blocked punt of the year.
"I think he's going to be a great, great football player," NIU head coach Jerry Kill said of Ward.
Buffalo struggled to put together an offensive rhythm, and NIU kept the Bulls off the field, winning the time of possession battle 35:53 to 24:07.
The Huskies didn't make life easy for Buffalo quarterback Jerry Davis and the rest of the Bulls' offense as they only gained 10 first downs.
"I feel like there is always room for improvement and you can always get better," NIU linebacker Tyrone Clark said of the defense's performance.
The Bulls' only offensive touchdown came when Davis chucked an 80-yard strike to Marcus Rivers, who had NIU cornerback Chris Smith beat by a handful of yards.
"I wasn't looking at my keys," Smith said. "I was looking in the backfield and that's something I'm not supposed to do."
Huskies' running back Chad Spann had 117 yards rushing, on a career-high 31 carries.
"[Spann] earned his yardage," Kill said. "He knew coming in, I told him, it wasn't going to be easy."
Kill credited his team for coming out stronger in the second half, and called it the deciding factor in their victory.
"We did what we needed to do to win and we played much better in the second half," Kill said.