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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

COLUMN: Takeaways from NIU football’s blowout win

Nyla O
Junior running back Antario Brown (1) attempts to run the ball while getting his shirt pulled by Southern Illinois senior linebacker Zach Burrola (10) during the Huskies game against Southern Illinois University on Sept. 9. (Nyla Owens | Northern Star)

DeKALB – NIU football (2-4, 1-1 MAC) earned its first win since the season opener at Boston College with a 55-14 rout of the University of Akron Zips on Saturday. The Huskies offense exploded for eight touchdowns and 571 total yards. 

“We’re getting closer to how we want to look as a football team,” said NIU football head coach Thomas Hammock. “The last two weeks we’ve made some strides, especially offensively.”


NIU’s rushing attack was dominant on Saturday. Led by junior running back Antario Brown’s 280 yard, four touchdown performance, the Huskies ran for 380 yards and six touchdowns on 35 carries.

“He (Brown) made guys miss, he was explosive, he was dynamic,” Hammock said. “I told him the last time I was here, I scored five touchdowns so he didn’t quite get there. Maybe next week, but I love the way he attacked the week.”

Redshirt junior wide receiver Trayvon Rudolph said that the close loss against Toledo in Week 1 of conference play played a big part in the team’s win at Akron.

“Even with the loss against Toledo, that was building us for the Akron win or just getting more wins in general,” Rudolph said.


Since being benched for redshirt sophomore quarterback Ethan Hampton against the University of Tulsa two weeks ago, redshirt senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi has played much better through the first two weeks of MAC play. 

“He had another good week of practice,” Hammock said. “I told him we want to be engaged and continue to have balance. I thought he did a tremendous job.” 

Lombardi has thrown for 449 yards, combined for 5 total touchdowns and committed zero turnovers during the Huskies’ first two conference games.

Rudolph credited the Huskies’ recent offensive turnaround to having fun and playing loose.

“I feel like we haven’t been having fun, but these last two games we’re standing on business; but at the same time, we’re having fun with it,” Rudolph said.


After scoring 55 points, the offense got a majority of the credit for the win, but the defense was just as dominant, allowing just 14 points. 

The Huskies allowed a touchdown on Akron’s opening drive but allowed just seven points over the final three and a half quarters.

“We gave up a touchdown first drive, and then they didn’t score again until the middle of the third quarter,” Hammock said. “That’s what good defenses do, and our defense has been playing phenomenal all year outside of the Toledo game.”

Saturday’s game was the second time in six games that the Huskies defense held their opponent under 20 points. 

“The offense continued to give our defense confidence,” said redshirt senior linebacker Tyler Jackson. “Once we saw that the offense had our backs, we just continued to get three and outs.”


NIU football’s next game will be its 116th Homecoming game at 3 p.m. Saturday at Huskie Stadium against the Ohio University Bobcats. The game will be streamed on ESPN, and live stats will be available via SideArm Stats.

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