NIU defeats Cal Poly 47-30

By Brian Belford

After losing its last two games, NIU got back to business against Cal Poly Saturday, rounding up the Mustangs in a 47-30 victory.

Getting into the red-zone early and often, the Huskies led 13-0 after the first quarter on the strength of two field goals by placekicker Mathew Sims, and a goal line dive by running back Jasmin Hopkins.

NIU held the Mustangs to one score in the first half, which was a touchdown run by quarterback Andre Broadous.

In the second quarter, NIU continued to pound the ball, while eating up clock and dominating the time of possession.

The success of the running game opened the passing game up for NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish, who found it easy to pick apart the Cal Poly secondary.

“When we have the running game going like it was, it’s so easy [to pick apart the secondary], but it’s because we have great wide receivers who go up and get the ball,” Harnish said. “It was easy, and that’s what we need to do, and we need to build on that.”

Two touchdown runs, one by NIU tailback Tommylee Lewis and one Harnish, and a touchdown reception by wide receiver Perez Ashford made the score 34-7 at the half.

The second half turned out to be much different than the first.

Cal Poly came out strong, scoring a touchdown and a field goal to make the score 34-17 at the end of the third quarter.

It went back and forth from there, with both teams trading scores, as Harnish threw a touchdown pass to tight end Tim Semisch, and Cal Poly scored on another Broadous scramble, making the score 40-24.

The nail in the coffin though was a 29-yard touchdown jaunt by Jasmin Hopkins that put the Huskies up 47-24, and effectively wrapped up the game, even though Cal Poly scored again late in the fourth quarter and recovered an onside kick attempt.

Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh said that the game might have been different if his team had played as well in the first half as they did in the second.

“I thought we did make some good adjustments, and got some momentum going, and we played much better in the second half then in the first,” Walsh said. “But we have to put a full 60 minutes together in order to win, and we didn’t do that.”

In a game of mostly offense that featured Harnish and Hopkins both running for over 100 yards on the ground, the Huskies’ defense still has yet to play a complete game.

However, NIU did end its losing streak with a much needed win, and are looking forward to starting MAC conference play.

“It’s good to get back on the winning side of things, our guys came out playing fast on both sides of the football,” said NIU head coach Dave Doeren. “The second half obviously wasn’t as good as the first but it felt good to get back to 2-2, and get that winning taste, and start play in the MAC conference.”