1 win: That’s what NIU football needs to get back to MAC Championship

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Junior safety Marlon Moore (2) celebrates recovering a fumble in NIU’s 21-14 win against Ohio on Nov. 18 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio. NIU is now one win away from securing a trip to the MAC Championship. The Huskies take on the Western Michigan Broncos 10 a.m. Nov. 28 at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mich.

By Frank Gogola

Football’s victory over the Ohio Bobcats Tuesday positions the Huskies one win away from their fifth-straight trip to Detroit.

The Huskies (9-2, 6-1 MAC) beat the Bobcats (5-6, 3-4 MAC), 21-14, at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio. If the Huskies beat the Western Michigan Broncos 10 a.m. Nov. 28 at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mich., they’ll play in the MAC Championship game for the fifth season in a row.

“We made plays when we had to make ’em,” said head coach Rod Carey, according to a news release. “On offense, we didn’t play particularly well. Ohio had a good [defensive] game plan. They took away everything we wanted to do. We had to make adjustments … .”

Redshirt senior tailback Cameron Stingily opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. The touchdown was set up by three-straight first down completions, totaling 47 yards, from redshirt sophomore Drew Hare to redshirt senior wide receiver Da’Ron Brown.

The Bobcats responded on the ensuing possession with a run-heavy drive. True freshman tailback A.J. Ouellette racked up 54 yards on the ground on the drive, capping it off with a 12-yard touchdown rush.

After nearly a quarter without any scoring, redshirt senior tailback Akeem Daniels put the Huskies back in front with a 32-yard touchdown reception from Hare on a screen pass. The Huskies went up 14-7 with 9:25 left in the third quarter.

The touchdown was Daniels’ first score since the 2012 MAC Championship game. He didn’t play last season, redshirting because of an injury.

Another dry spell for the offenses kept the score 14-7 until Ouellette caught a slant pass for a 9-yard touchdown from quarterback Derrius Vick with 8:50 to go in the game. Ouellette finished with 136 yards of total offense and both of the Bobcats’ touchdowns.

The Huskies didn’t back down, responding on the ensuing possession with an eight-play, 70-yard drive in 2:50. Sophomore wide receiver Chad Beebe capped off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown reception from Hare on a post route.

The Bobcats looked poised to tie the score late in the fourth quarter, marching to NIU’s 42-yard line. But, redshirt junior linebacker Boomer Mays forced a fumble that junior safety Marlon Moore recovered at NIU’s 33-yard line with 1:57 to play.

After picking up one first down the Huskies ran out the clock to secure a 21-14 victory.

The Huskies will travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., the day after Thanksgiving for their regular season finale.

The Bowling Green Falcons have already captured the MAC East crown.