Huskies look hungry after season opener

By Brian Belford

Amidst a muddy mess of fans, students and over-zealous cops, NIU football played like the very rain that drenched Brigham Field Saturday, pouring the points on the Black Knights of Army in a 49 to 26 victory.

Despite being soaked to the bone and dealing with the ensuing madness of party goers afterwards, I can say that the football game Saturday night was well worth the hype.

In a statement game for the Huskies, it seemed the falling rain helped bring the already intense atmosphere to a frenzied pitch.

I could feel the electricity of the crowd and of the Huskies mesh together from my front row seat at Huskie stadium. People were yelling at players, players were interacting with fans and quarterback Chandler Harnish was throwing touchdowns. It was pure college football excitement.

Yes, it was thrilling, and it was fun. Plus, we got pretty much what we expected.

We expected the offensive domination. Harnish threw for 195 yards and five touchdowns, and running back Jasmin Hopkins gained 138 yards on 14 carries against an Army team that looked overmatched.

So what didn’t we expect? For one, we didn’t expect the special teams unit to play as well as they did.

NIU safety Jimmie Ward blocked a punt, the fourth of his career, and it was recovered by Courtney Stephens who returned it for a touchdown. Kicker Matthew Sims laid to rest his doubters, making all seven of his extra point attempts on a wet field in bad weather.

We didn’t expect the Huskies to let up at the end of the game.

At the end of the third quarter, the score was 49 to 6. At the end of the game, the score was 49 to 26.

The Huskies held possession of the ball for over seven minutes in the fourth, but failed to score, gaining only 47 yards on 11 plays.

In the meantime, Army scored three times in the fourth, and had 187 out of their total 409 yards in that quarter alone.

This, however, can be attributed to head coach Dave Doeren resting his starters in preparation for next week. Playing them would have only run up the score and have made Army look even worse than they already did.

It might say something about the depth of the team, but the damage was done and the game was over after the second quarter, no sense in having your starters play through a blowout like that.

They need to be careful, though. Letting teams score 20 points late in games is not something you want to see happen. After game one, the Huskies looked like a championship caliber team, hungry to win the MAC title that should have been theirs last year.