Huskies end on high note

By Scott Nicol

KENT, Ohio | NIU defeated Kent State University 31-21 Friday to finish the season 5-7, 5-3 in the Mid-American Conference.

After beginning the season 0-4 and losing redshirt senior quarterback Drew Hare Sept. 10 against University of South Florida for the season, the Huskies turned their season around. NIU finished its season by winning four of its final five games to manage a respecatble record, but its streak of six consecutive MAC championships appearnces ends.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Santacaterina is the fourth quarterback used this season by the Huskies, and recorded his first career rushing touchdown on a three-yard run in the first quarter.

Santacaterina, now 2-0 as the starting quarterback, went 13-for-23 passing with 258 yards.

“I thought [Santacaterina] was jittery in the first half,” said Head Coach Rod Carey. “In the second half, he calmed down and operated the offense much better. We told him he didn’t have to be perfect, just be himself. Kent State was daring him to make plays. [Golladay] really sparked us in the second half with those two catches before he went down.”

Redshirt senior Kenny Golladay caught four passes for 91 yards, but left the game midway through the third quarter because of an arm injury while attempting to stretch into the endzone for a touchdown.

Golladay fell five receptions short of breaking former wide receiver Dave Petzke record set in 1978. Golladay did surpass Tommylee Lewis for second place on the NIU single season reception list.

Bowl eligibility

Friday may have been the final game for 21 of the seniors on the team, but the Huskies still have an outside shot of making a bowl game this season as 74 of the 80 slots are filled with bowl eligible teams—teams with a winning percentage above .500, according to a Nov. 27 ESPN article.

Army University was not included even though they are 6-5 because they defeated two Football Championship Series teams, and can only have one count towards their total wins. Army will receive a bowl bid if they defeat Naval Academy.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette (5-6) and University of South Alabama (5-6) can still reach .500, with a game still scheduled, but if those two teams and Army make bowls, there will still be three spots to fill, according to a Nov. 27 ESPN article.

In order for a team under .500 to be bowl eligible they had to play in a bowl game the year before, and finish highest in the academic projection ratings.

Currently, NIU sits fourth in the academic projection rating with 970 points, one point behind University of Texas and Mississippi State University and 14 points behind North Texas University.

NIU will need one of the teams ahead of it to decline a bowl bid in order to receive a bid.