Football nearly upsets No. 1 Ohio St.

By Christopher Loggins

After being 34-point underdogs heading into Saturday’s game against Ohio State, football (2-1, 0-0 MAC) lost to the Buckeyes 20-13.

In the first quarter, NIU struck first after junior OSU quarterback Cardale Jones threw an interception to sophomore cornerback Shawun Lurry, leading to a touchdown run by junior wide receiver Aregeros Turner. Later in the first half, Jones threw a second interception to Lurry, leading to him being benched for the remainder of the game for sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett.

Barrett threw a touchdown upon his arrival, a 23-yard throw to junior receiver Michael Thomas. Heading into halftime, the score was tied at 10-10 as neither team was able to take control of the game.

Ohio State began taking over the game in the second half, keeping the Huskies scoreless in the third quarter. The Buckeyes scored a field goal and a touchdown, bringing the score to 20-10 in a game that looked to be getting away from NIU.

Though the Buckeyes’ offense failed to put up a second-half touchdown, they scored on an interception return by sophomore linebacker Darron Lee. The offense put up only 13 points throughout the contest, and went two-for-13 on third downs.

In the final quarter, NIU put up its second field goal of the game, shortening OSU’s lead to 20-13. Despite valiant efforts to win the game, the Huskies came up short on all of their drives, losing by a final deficit of seven.

“We got it to a one-score game [in the fourth quarter], which was good,” said NIU head coach Rod Carey, according to an NIU Athletics news release. “At the end, we missed too many opportunities. We’re upset about losing the game. We had an opportunity to win. I’m proud of the defense, the offense and all three phases of the game. They gave us the opportunity to win.”

Junior quarterback Drew Hare went 14-31 on the day, throwing for only 80 yards and no touchdowns. He also threw his first two interceptions of the season. Hare’s longest pass was 17 yards, and he was sacked a total of four times.

Junior running back Joel Bouagnon carried much of the rushing load for the Huskies’ offense, carrying the ball 21 times for a total of 78 yards. NIU’s leading receiver on the day was senior wide receiver Tommylee Lewis, who caught four balls for just 13 yards.

Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett went 11-19 in relief of Cardale Jones, throwing for just 97 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Running back Ezekiel Elliott had 23 carries for 108 yards, but couldn’t cross the endzone on the day.

The game proved to be a defensive fight throughout, with neither defense allowing breathing room at any point in the game. Both teams combined for just 488 yards, and had neither was able to muster more than 5 yards per play. The Buckeyes turned the ball over five times, but the Huskies were only able to score 10 points on those turnovers.

“The whole defense played really well,” Carey said, according to NIU Athletics. “Shawun (Lurry) is always around the ball and he made the plays. That’s what we expect. We were on the right side of the turnover battle.”

The Huskies will look to move to 3-1 on the season this week as they face off against Boston College (2-1) at noon on Saturday at Alumni Stadium.