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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Football eyes third place in MAC West

Cameron Whittington
Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Drew Hoth (71) blocks as redshirt senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi (12) looks to take an open past during Saturday’s Homecoming game against Ohio University. The Huskies are looking for their third straight win this weekend against Eastern Michigan. (Cameron Whittington | Northern Star)

DeKALB – With a victory on Saturday, NIU football (3-4, 2-1 MAC) can seize the chance to surpass Eastern Michigan University (4-3, 2-1 MAC) for third place in the MAC West. 

The Huskies ride into Saturday’s contest on the heels of a 23-13 Homecoming upset over the Ohio University Bobcats on Saturday. In the first half, NIU was trailing 13-7 before staging a 16-0 comeback run during the second half.

“I like the way our players responded, I like the way they stuck to it,” said NIU head football coach Thomas Hammock. “We went down 13-7 at half and found a way to put a great second half together and win the football game.”


After enduring four consecutive defeats, NIU has orchestrated its first two-game winning streak since the 2021 MAC Championship-winning season. When inquired about the factors contributing to this resurgence, Hammock couldn’t pinpoint a single unit or player. 

“Defensively, they continue to do the same things,” Hammock said. “Offensively, I think the execution has really cleaned up. I think our quarterback is playing at a tremendous level. Guys are getting healthier. We’re getting stronger as the season goes on.” 

The Huskies have recorded zero turnovers through the last two games and a single penalty against Ohio. 

“I think that speaks to the type of men in our program,” Hammock said. “The young men in our program, the discipline, the focus, their attention to detail, the things that are important to winning football games, and they take it seriously.” 


The Eagles soar into DeKalb one game above .500, clinging to the third spot in the MAC West by a narrow margin. A win on Saturday will  give the Huskies sole possession of third place to keep their MAC Championship hopes alive.

Even with recent success and an opportunity to move up in the standings, redshirt junior offensive lineman J.J. Lippe stressed the importance of taking things one step at a time. 

“I think it definitely gives us a lot of confidence for sure,” Lippe said. “And I think we as a football team, we just take it one step at a time, one week at a time, and I think the best part about it is we’ve done a lot of hard work to get where we’re at right now, and we’re gonna continue to do so.” 


After conceding 542 total yards against Toledo on Sept. 30, the Huskies’ defense is back on schedule, holding the University of Akron to 14 points on Oct. 7 and pitching the second-half shutout against the Ohio University Bobcats on Saturday. 

“I would say it was a humbling performance,” junior linebacker Jaden Dolphin said. “I think that it really kind of sparked us to show how much better we were than what was shown on film that day.” 


The Huskies will take on EMU at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Huskie Stadium. The game will be streamed on ESPN+, and live stats will be available via SideArm Stats.

“We got to continue to play clean football, we got to continue to play complimentary, so we can put our best foot forward each and every week,” Hammock said. 

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