Football back home for Kent matchup


Redshirt sophomore quarterback Drew Hare hands off the ball on Sept. 6 in the game against Northwestern University.

By Danny Albers

After a three-game road stretch and a loss to Arkansas, football returns home to begin conference play.

The Huskies (3-1) take on the Kent State Golden Flashes (0-4) 4 p.m. Saturday at Huskie Stadium. The game will be shown on ESPN3.

The Huskies closed non-conference play with a 52-14 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks Sept. 20.

“After taking a loss like that it really leaves a spot in you,” said Tyler Pitt, redshirt senior right guard. “You always remember it the whole time. … [And] a bye week too after that loss, you can’t get it out of your mind. You just really want to get the next game going to hopefully get a win … .”

Coming into Saturday’s game, the Huskies have won 27 straight home games. Since 2011, the Huskies are 3-0 against the Golden Flashes, including a 44-37 win in the 2012 MAC Championship Game.

Pitt and the other redshirt seniors have a chance to go undefeated at home in their NIU career, but their focus is squarely on Kent State.

“Yeah, it would mean a lot. It would be really special,” Pitt said. “… You have to look at it week to week. When you start looking down the road you’re going to overlook an opponent, and that can really come back to bite you.”

The Golden Flashes are 0-4 to start the 2014 season, but their record doesn’t say much to how they’ve played. They kept Ohio close Aug. 30 to open their season and conference play, losing 17-14. In their second game they lost by 10 to South Alabama.

NIU head coach Rod Carey said the Golden Flashes’ record may be misleading.

“… They could easily be sitting here 2-2 [or] 3-1,” Carey said. “I don’t put much stock in that record of theirs right now because that’s a well-coached football team … .”

This season the Huskies’ running game ranks 13th in the FBS and first in the MAC in rushing yards per game, averaging 274.8 yards per game. Carey said he expects tailbacks Akeem Daniels and Keith Harris Jr. to be back and ready to play in Saturday’s game.

Sports Editor Frank Gogola contributed to this article.