Back on the winning track


After falling behind early in the first quarter, the Huskies delighted the Homecoming crowd of 14,475 with a 21-16 come-from-behind victory over University of the Pacific Saturday afternoon.

This was the first game all year that the Huskies didn’t score the first touchdown of the game. In fact the Tigers had a 10-0 lead before the Huskies forced a safety in the second quarter which came on a bad snap on an attempted Pacific punt.

“At the start of the game they come out and get a fumble recovery, on the next series we lose our quarterback and the next thing you know it’s 10-0,” said head coach Charlie Sadler. “I knew it was time to go to work. That’s what our team did offensively and defensively. We had an excellent job done by a lot of people.”

One of those people was LeShon Johnson. A week after setting his career high in carries (36), he decided to increase it by rushing 42 times and ending with 224 yards on the day. He scored one of the Huskies’ two touchdowns.

The real hero of the game, however, was back-up sophomore QB Ron Reichert. He came in with 10:18 left in the first quarter for injured Scott Crabtree who suffered a separated shoulder. Reichert completed 7-of-15 passes for 89 yards. He also carried the ball six times for 22 yards and scored NIU’s first touchdown on a four-yard scamper.

Not only did Reichert lead the Huskies to victory, but he also was successful at running the option even though Pacific was taking away most of his pitch out opportunities.

“He stepped in and responded to the challenge at hand and as I looked at him from the sidelines there was an air of confidence about him,” said Sadler.

“You have to prepare like a starter every week,” said Reichert. “You don’t get the reps in practice, but you have to prepare mentally just in case something happens.”

The offense responded to the challenge also by producing 412 total yards. Johnson led the rushers of course, but Brian Gimes, Dante Wharton and Arther Russell each had two carries for 21, 25 and 26 yards respectively. Vaurice Patterson led the receiving unit with three catches for 67 yards.

The defense held Pacific to just 124 yards passing in the game.

“We had defensive backs really breaking on the ball and being more aggressive than they have been all year,” said Sadler. “We’re not an inexperienced secondary anymore. It’s now time for us to start showing our maturity.”

Troy Seabook recorded the only Huskie sack, but the defense broke up nine Pacific passes. Eric Lacy, Sam Denson and Kenya Smith each recorded one during a crucial Pacific touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

The Huskies forced them to use up 4:41 of the clock, which left Pacific with little time in which to work, down 21-16. The Tigers failed to convert an onside kick from mid-field after the touchdown, but did get one more shot when they took possession on their own eight with 1:20 remaining.

The defense held and the goalposts took a swim.