Santacaterina, Huskies get first win

By Ryan Ostry

The first win of the season for the Huskies came with an offensive output of 506 yards, led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Daniel Santacaterina. The Huskies won wire-to-wire against the Eastern Illinois University Panthers 38-10 Saturday.

“I’m extremely pleased with the win. Our hard work we put in as a team showed today in the outcome of the win,” Head Coach Rod Carey said.

The Huskies came out in the first quarter with Santacaterina, who threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Spencer Tears, redshirt sophomore wide receiver, to open up the scoring at 7-0.

After a fumble by the Huskies on a punt return from Chad Beebe, redshirt senior wide receiver, Eastern Illinois capitalized with a 20-yard field goal from redshirt senior kicker Nick Wilson.

On the next Panthers drive, redshirt senior cornerback Mycial Allen intercepted a pass to put the Huskies on the Panthers 11-yard line to end the first quarter.

After the break, the Huskies wasted no time as redshirt sophomore tailback Marcus Jones ran the ball four yards to give the Huskies their second touchdown and extended their lead to 14-3.

On the next drive, the Huskies were denied a 39-yard field goal from senior kicker Christian Hagan as redshirt senior linebacker David Johnson blocked the field goal attempt for the Panthers.

NIU came back with another score as senior wide receiver Christian Blake caught an 18-yard strike from Santacaterina to extend the lead to 21-3.

The Huskies were not done as redshirt sophomore safety Mykelti Williams intercepted the second pass of the day, leading to a one-yard touchdown run by Jones to give NIU a 28-3 lead.

Jones recognized his play but credited the offensive line after his productive rushing day, as he had 12 touches for 71 yards for the game.

“[It] feels good especially [after] sitting out last year,” Jones said. “You have to credit this offensive line; we have a lot of maturity [here] and these guys just did a great job.”

Later in the quarter, the Huskies added to their total as Santacaterina threw a 41-yard pass to junior wide receiver D.J. Brown, setting up a 20-yard field goal by Hagan, and the Huskies were up 31-3.

The Panthers fortunes did not change in the second half, as it began with a fumble from their redshirt senior quarterback Mitch Kimble resulting in Sutton Smith, redshirt sophomore defensive end, recovering the ball for the Huskies.

The Huskies made their first mistake of the day as Santacaterina’s pass was tipped by the Panthers and eventually intercepted by redshirt sophomore linebacker Joe Caputo.

The Panthers would not capitalize on the Huskie turnover as they missed the 35-yard field goal.

NIU later added another touchdown to end the third quarter with a 1-yard pitch-and-catch from Santacaterina to Shane Wimann, redshirt senior tight end.

Going into the fourth quarter and needing some offense, the Panthers changed quarterbacks and went to redshirt freshman quarterback Scotty Gilkey, Jr.

He eventually gave the Panthers a score as he ran for a one-yard touchdown, narrowing the margin to 38-10.

The Huskies made a similar move with the outcome, arguably, decided as they went to redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Childers with just under eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Childers completed all of his passes and tallied 17 yards in his season debut.

Panthers Head Coach Kim Dameron acknowledged with the loss that his team has to play better, but attributed the play of the Huskies and their leadership.

“Northern Illinois is a good football team,” Dameron said. “They are well-coached, have good athletes, and they will win quite a few games this year.”

The Huskies will face the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska.