Huskies go for the win, end up with loss

By Jarrod Rice

EVANSTON – Joe Novak knew his team was going to go for the win, before they even got the ball on the final drive.

The 10-year NIU football coach knew his defense was tired and would not be able to hold up in overtime against a potent Northwestern offense.

With six seconds left, quarterback Phil Horvath completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Sam Hurd.

Rather than kicking the extra point and prolonging the game, Novak decided to go back to Hurd to try and get the win.

Hurd ran a short curl route, but lost his footing as Horvath’s pass sailed over his head leaving the Huskies on the short-end of a 38-37 shootout at Evanston.

Novak said he does not regret his decision to go for two against the Wildcats.

“We talked about it all the way down the field,” Novak said. “Even before we got the ball we knew if we’d gotten to that we’d go for it. I still feel good about it.”

Hurd said he agreed with Novak’s decision, but thought there should have been a penalty because Northwestern cornerback Marquice Cole was pulling him down during the play.

“[Cole] was pulling me down. His right hand grabbed on to my jersey,” Hurd said. “It would’ve been a perfect pass.”

The Huskies (0-2) ran the ball effectively the entire game, but the Northwestern (2-0) ground attack was equally impressive.

NIU running back Garrett Wolfe rushed for 245 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries.

Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton countered with 218 yards of his own, and tied a school record with four touchdowns.

“We came out and said we were going to run all over them and pass when we needed,” Horvath said. “We’re just still beating ourselves.”

Turnovers once again proved to be a problem for the Huskies. A fumble by NIU running back A.J. Harris on the Huskies first possession led to a field goal and a 3-0 lead for the Wildcats.

Horvath also threw his second interception of the season in the second quarter. The Huskies were penalized for 76 yards in the game, and had two penalties for 20 yards on Northwestern’s final drive.

“Everyone is talking about us playing great,” Horvath said. “We’re just coming up short and not doing the little things.”