Huskies defense holds off Buffalo


Junior wide receiver D.J. Brown (left) runs the ball in the Huskies’ 14-13 road win Saturday at Buffalo. NIU returns to action Saturday when they face Bowling Green 1 p.m. Saturday in Bowling Green, Ohio.

By Ryan Ostry

The football team put their motto of “The Hard Way” to fruition as they won a close battle with the University at Buffalo Bulls by a final score of 14-13.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Childers led the way for the Huskies in his first career start throwing for 224 yards with one passing touchdown, along with rushing for 79 yards, while adding a rushing score as well and scoring one rushing touchdown.

“I thought [Childers] handled the offense outstanding,” Head Coach Rod Carey said. “I thought he ran and threw the ball exceptionally well.”

The game started slowly with just a field goal coming from Buffalo’s junior kicker Adam Mitcheson to put the Bulls up 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Huskies answered at the beginning of the second quarter with a touchdown run from Childers, followed by a 34-yard touchdown reception by Shane Wimann, redshirt senior tight end.

{{tncms-inline account=”tnb030″ html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">NIU finally starting to go to Shane Wimann after limited touches to begin the season. He's a big tight end and a strong weapon. <a href="">#Huskies</a></p>— Tom Burton (@tnb030) <a href="">October 14, 2017</a></blockquote>” id=”919300322190938114″ type=”twitter”}}

“It felt really good,” Childers said. “I’m just glad I got the opportunity to play, and it feels really good to go out and get this win.”

The Bulls crept back into the game with a 29-yard touchdown throw from junior quarterback Drew Anderson to sophomore running back Emmanuel Reed, which was the first touchdown allowed from the Huskie defense in eight quarters.

The Huskies are ranked seventh in the nation in total defense and still lead the nation in yards per drive allowed at 3.54, according to the NCAA’s official website.

“The defense played outstanding,” Carey said. “When you can hold a team to 13 points and one touchdown, that’s a good day, but there’s room for them to get better too.”

A couple scares came shortly after that as senior wide receiver Christian Blake went down with an apparent head injury after a botched kickoff return. Jordan Huff, redshirt senior running back, also left the game with an injury, but both returned to action.

The Bulls were forced to turn to their freshman quarterback in Kyle Vantrease following an injury to Anderson after a hard hit from Sutton Smith, redshirt sophomore defensive end.

{{tncms-inline account=”_krystalmegan” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Gonna tell you something you already know but Sutton Smith is a beast <a href="">#NIU</a> 🐾</p>— Krystal Megan (@_krystalmegan) <a href="">October 14, 2017</a></blockquote>” id=”919304942300553221″ type=”twitter”}}

The Bulls added a 22-yard field goal to get the game within one point going into halftime with a score of 14-13.

After a fumble made by Childers and a 43-yard field goal miss from senior kicker Christian Hagan, the score remained 14-13 heading into the fourth quarter.

Carey was unhappy with the play of Hagan in the game.

“The field goal [kicking] was just awful today,” Carey said. “[Hagan’s] just got to get a lot better.”

With a 33-yard field goal miss from the Bulls and an interception from redshirt junior linebacker Juwan Johnson, Hagan’s second missed field goal of the day did not hurt the Huskies as they went on to win their fourth game of the season.

NIU will return to action against the Bowling Green State University Falcons 1 p.m. Saturday in Bowling Green, Ohio.

This game will be a rematch of their Nov. 1, 2016, match-up where the Huskies won 45-20 at home on senior night.