MAC championship still in sight; Huskies win

By Ryan Ostry

DeKALB — With the blistering wind, frigid temperature and a potential Mid-American Conference Championship game on the line, NIU edged out a close 35-31 victory to stay alive in the standings.

“We’re ecstatic about the win, that’s a really good Western Michigan team,” Head Coach Rod Carey said. “We got in our way, then got out of our way and that’s how I would best describe that game.”

The Huskies struck first on the cold night when Jordan Huff, redshirt senior running back, scored on a 31 yard touchdown run.

“I knew coming into this game I was going to have a big role in it,” Huff said. “I just wanted to show that I was the best [running back] in the MAC.”

NIU kept up its defensive prowl throughout the game, recording five sacks total, making it the 21st consecutive game with a sack.

Broncos freshman quarterback Reece Goddard started in place of sophomore quarterback Jon Wassink who has a broken collarbone, throwing for 211 yards with two touchdowns.

“[Goddard] is a talented kid,” Broncos Head Coach Tim Lester said. “[Goddard] has a strong arm, he reads things right and this was by far his best game.”

Goddard tied up the game in the first quarter with a seven yard passing touchdown to Keishawn Watson, redshirt sophomore wide receiver.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Childers helped NIU take the lead with a one yard touchdown run to make it 14-7.

The first miscue of the game landed on the Huskie special teams as Chad Beebe, redshirt senior wide receiver, fumbled a punt leading to a two yard touchdown run by senior running back Jarvion Franklin of the Broncos.

With the first Huskie passing completion coming with about 10 minutes left in the second quarter, the defense came through with a 58 yard fumble recovery touchdown by Sutton Smith, redshirt sophomore defensive end.

Smith tied the game and broke the all-time career record for sacks by a NIU defender in school history recording his 12th and 13th on the night.

“It felt good,” Smith said. “It’s definitely a team sack record, the guys inside make my life a lot easier so I can rush freely so you have to give all the credit to those guys.”

The Huskie special teams had another blunder after a punt touching the foot of redshirt sophomore safety Trayshon Foster was recovered by the Broncos, setting up a seven yard quarterback scramble for a score by Goddard.

Western Michigan capitalized again on another NIU error when Marcus Jones, redshirt sophomore running back, fumbled the ball, leading to a 13 yard touchdown reception by senior tight end Donnie Ernsberger putting the Broncos up 28-21.

After another Huff touchdown for 14 yards, the Huskies tied the game at the start of the fourth quarter.

Western Michigan came back with an explosive 68 yard pass-and-catch to freshman wide receiver Tyron Arnett, setting up a 28 yard field goal by freshman kicker Josh Grant.

The NIU offense came up in the clutch to seal the game with a 26 yard touchdown reception by sophomore tight end Mitchell Brinkman.

The Huskies will close out their regular season schedule against the Central Michigan Chippewas Friday in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.