For football’s defense, it was a tale of two halves in its 45-35 victory over Idaho.
In the first half, the Vandals exploited the Huskies’ defense, scoring 28 points on four touchdowns.
The Vandals got off to a quick start, marching right down the field on their first drive of the game for a 1-yard touchdown run by James Baker. The Huskies made a stand on the Vandals’ next drive when Joe Windsor sacked Chad Chalich and forced a fumble that Ken Bishop recovered.
Later in the first quarter, Chalich picked the Huskies apart through the air for a 27-yard touchdown pass to Richard Montgomery. The key for the Vandals in the first quarter was the play of the offensive line. They gave Chalich plenty of time to survey the field and open up lots of running lanes.
It was more of the same for Idaho in the second quarter. Chalich hooked up with Baker on a wheel-route for a 37-yard touchdown and quarterback Joshua McCain later ran for a 34-yard touchdown.
It was a different story for the Huskies’ defense in the second half.
The Huskies bounced back and only surrendered one touchdown in the second half as well as 159 yards. The Huskies made a number of adjustments in the locker room and dominated the line of scrimmage. NIU recorded seven sacks in the second half on its way to a school-record 11 sacks.
NIU got contributions from seemingly everyone. Windsor, sophomore Perez Ford, redshirt sophomore Rasheen Lemon and redshirt freshman Mario Jones each recorded two sacks on the day. Redshirt senior George Rainey and junior Jason Meehan each recorded one sack, and redshirt junior Jamaal Bass recorded half a sack.
“We got good pass rushers,” said coach Rod Carey in a news conference. “I mean, that’s one thing we can do. We’re fast and if we get them in situations where they’re throwing it, we feel good about our chances against anybody.”
The pressure of the defensive line completely changed the game and put the Vandals’ offense on their heels.
“All week we emphasized the pass rush,” Bass said in a news conference. “It was incredible to see those guys get after the quarterback every play. It shows you what the defense is capable of.”