NIU football bowl eligible after difficult victory


Redshirt sophomore quarterback Drew Hare (12) carries the ball during his 78-yard touchdown run on the Huskies’ first series of the game. The Huskies ran for 332 yards while passing for only 54 yards Saturday at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich., against the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

By Danny Albers

Football relied heavily on its defense in Saturday’s win against the Eastern Michigan Eagles to bail out an offense that struggled through chunks of the game.

The Huskies (6-2, 3-1 MAC) defeated Eastern Michigan (2-6, 1-3 MAC), 28-17, at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich. The win makes the Huskies bowl-eligible for the seventh-consecutive season.

The Eagles went up 17-14 early in the fourth quarter, but NIU’s offense came back to life. The Huskies scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns on the ground to win the game, 28-17. After going up 21-17, the Huskies forced a turnover on downs and marched down the field for the game’s final points.

“That was big. We finally got pressure on the quarterback,” said head coach Rod Carey, according to a news release. “I like the way we bounced back after they scored, and then the was our defense responded.”

The Huskies’ offense got off to a good start in the first quarter. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Drew Hare broke out with a 78-yard touchdown run to draw first blood, putting the Huskies up 7-0. The Eagles fought right back to tie the game on their ensuing possession as Ryan Brumfield punched in a 4-yard touchdown. With 0:11 left in the first quarter, redshirt senior tailback Cameron Stingily came up big on the 3-yard goal line run to put the Huskies up 14-7

The Huskies made some big plays on defense to keep the team in the game. Redshirt senior safety Dechane Durante intercepted quarterback Reginald Bell Jr. on the Eagles’ first possession of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Huskies forced a turnover on downs after they went up 21-17. The defense had eight tackles for loss and four sacks.

“Their quarterback is going to present a lot of problems for a long time in this league,” Carey said, according to the news release. “The fourth down stop [we made] was big and so was Dechane Durante’s interception after we turned the ball over on downs.”

After their 14-point first quarter, the Huskies didn’t score again until the fourth quarter. That was when Eastern Michigan had the chance to run away with the game. But, the Huskies’ defense stood tall.

In their Oct. 11 game against Central Michigan the Huskies allowed 34 points in a losing effort. On Oct. 18, against Miami (Ohio), they allowed 41 points. But, the defense bouncing back on the road like they did Saturday gives the Huskies a chance to build momentum moving on with four conference games to finish the regular season.