Injury-riddled Huskies escape Kalamazoo with second MAC victory

Late Lynch TD run ruins Broncos’ bowl hopes


Sean Reed

Sophomore quarterback Justin Lynch races for 15-yard touchdown during the 115th Homecoming Game against the University of Toledo Rockets on Oct. 8 at Huskie Stadium. Lynch ran into the end zone for the deciding score in NIU’s conference matchup with Western Michigan University on Wednesday. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

By Joseph Segreti, Sports Reporter

DeKALB – An injury-riddled Huskie football team (3-7, 2-4 MAC) earned a gritty 24-21 win on Wednesday night in Kalamazoo, Michigan, knocking the Western Michigan University Broncos (3-7, 2-4 MAC) out of bowl eligibility.   

Redshirt senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi, redshirt freshman quarterback Ethan Hampton and sophomore running backs Harrison Waylee and Antario Brown all missed this game due to injuries. 

Freshmen get first college starts

Freshman quarterback Nevan Cremascoli got his first start of his college career. Cremascoli is the fourth different quarterback to start a game for NIU this season. His final statline for the game was 8-for-17 passing with 133 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. 

“You know, he was up and down,” head coach Thomas Hammock said. “There are always growing pains at the quarterback position. It’s the hardest position in football and it’s hard for a reason. He did some good things early and some crushing things late and we just had to take him and settle him down.”

Freshman running back Jaiden Credle got the start in Brown and Waylee’s absence, the first start of Credle’s college career. Credle took advantage of this opportunity as he rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries.

“It was really big for me,” Credle said. “There was a lot of pressure on my shoulders but I practiced during the week knowing that I had a big game, and I just played ball.” 

In the first quarter, Redshirt junior kicker John Richardson kicked a 53-yard field goal in the Huskies’ first offensive drive, setting a new career-long. Richardson’s previous career-long was 51 yards against the Ohio University Bobcats on Oct. 12, 2019.

Western scores wiped after self-inflicted errors

Western Michigan struggled with penalties in the game, as they had two penalties take away potential touchdowns. The first was an ineligible receiver downfield called against the Broncos. The play would have resulted in a 38-yard touchdown with 10:52 on the clock in the second quarter.

The second was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against redshirt junior defensive lineman Andre Carter after he blind-sided Cremascoli during a Western Michigan interception return that would have resulted in a touchdown.

The Huskies trailed Western Michigan at halftime, 14-10. Cremascoli went 7-for-13 in the first half with 102 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. Credle rushed the ball 19 times for 67 yards in his first game action of his college career. 

Redshirt sophomore tight end Tristan Tewes was the leading receiver for NIU in the first half, he brought in four catches for 64 yards. Redshirt senior wide receiver Cole Tucker caught a touchdown, as he had two receptions for 27 yards as well.

Cremascoli only completed one pass in the second half, a 31-yard connection to sophomore fullback Brock Lampe. Cremascoli also had two interceptions in the second half, one by Carter and the second by senior linebacker Zaire Barnes.

Sophomore quarterback Justin Lynch was put into the game after the Huskies received a punt down by four with three minutes left in the game. The first play of the drive was a 52-yard run by Lynch, which set up the Huskies in the red zone. Lynch rushed in for a nine-yard touchdown to give the Huskies a three-point lead with under a minute to play. Lynch totaled 76 rushing yards for the drive. 

Sophomore safety Jashon Prophete was credited with the sack of Western Michigan’s freshman quarterback Treyshon Borguet on fourth down, giving possession of the football back to the Huskies and sealing NIU’s win. The sack was the first of Prophete’s college career.

“I had to get on the defensive guys and say ‘get after him and pressure this quarterback,’” Hammock said. “He’s (Borguet) a true freshman just like our true freshman and when they have pressure, they struggle and so we started heating them up and taking our chances and they (NIU’s defense) came away with six sacks.”

The Huskies’ next game will be against the Miami University RedHawks at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. (currently undecided) on Nov. 16 at Huskie Stadium.