NIU snaps five-game losing streak, Rocky Lombardi returns


James Krause | Northern Star

Junior quarterback Rocky Lombardi throws a pass in practice on Aug. 20. Lombardi transfers in from Michigan State University, where he threw eight touchdowns and nine interceptions last season.

YPSILANTI, Mi – NIU football ended its five-game skid against Eastern Michigan University in a 39-10 victory on Saturday. 

Good news came for the Huskies on Saturday after redshirt senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi made his return under center. Lombardi replaced injured redshirt freshman quarterback Ethan Hampton, who started the past three games. Lombardi shared snaps with sophomore quarterback Justin Lynch.

To begin the game, redshirt sophomore defensive tackle James Ester intercepted a pass from Eastern Michigan graduate quarterback Taylor Powell in the end zone for a touchdown.

NIU gave up a 75-yard touchdown immediately after the pick-six. Sophomore tight end Andreas Paaske of Eastern Michigan had the reception touchdown to tie the game at seven.

Huskie sophomore running back Antario Brown ran for a 47-yard touchdown off of a direct snap. Brown was untouched as he burst through the defensive line, giving NIU a 14-7 lead.

Redshirt junior kicker John Richardson kicked a 41-yard field goal to begin the second quarter. Richardson’s kick was set up by penalties from Eastern Michigan and short runs by Brown. The score gave the Huskies a 17-7 lead.

The Eagles missed a 58-yard field goal attempt in the last minute of the second quarter. The Huskies drove down the field after the miss to set up Richardson for another field goal from 39 yards. NIU extended their lead to 20-7 to end the first half.

Eastern Michigan and NIU traded field goals in the third quarter to make the score 23-10.

Sophomore running back Harrison Waylee went down with an injury with two minutes left in the third quarter. Brown took over as the primary running back.

Brown once again received a direct snap from the wildcat formation and scored on a six-yard rush. The Huskies’ ensuing two-point conversion attempt failed. The touchdown gave NIU a 29-10 lead.

Richardson made another field goal for the Huskies to start the fourth quarter, his fourth make of the day.

Waylee returned in the fourth quarter and broke off a long 76-yard touchdown run. NIU extended its lead to 39-10 after Richardson’s successful extra point attempt.

Neither team scored after Waylee’s touchdown, ending the game in a 39-10 Huskies win. NIU is now 1-2 in Mid-American Conference play and 2-5 overall.

The Huskies will face Ohio University next in Athens, Ohio. The game will take place at 1 p.m. on Oct. 22. Live stats can be accessed here. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.