Offense underwhelms in first midweek showdown


Sean Reed

Sophomore quarterback Justin Lynch passes the ball just before the team’s first touchdown during the Huskie’s homecoming game Saturday at Huskie Stadium. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

DeKALB – The Huskies’ offense was unable to capitalize on defensive turnovers in a 35-22 loss against the Central Michigan University Chippewas.

Sophomore quarterback Justin Lynch got his third straight start for the Huskies as redshirt senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi is still out. Redshirt freshman quarterback Ethan Hampton is still sidelined.

Lynch was at quarterback on the first drive of the game when the Huskies turned the ball over on downs. Freshman quarterback Nevan Cremascoli replaced Lynch after the Huskies’ first drive. Lynch returned to the game once during NIU’s last drive before halftime.

After Cremascoli was put into the game, he completed his first college pass to redshirt sophomore tight end Tristen Tewes. Cremascoli finished the game going 13-for-33 passing with 158 passing yards, 15 rushing yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

“It was definitely faster, but my coaches and teammates really got me prepared for this moment,” Cremascoli said. “I know I made some mistakes, but it was definitely a learning opportunity for me.”

NIU’s offense was not able to do much with the ball in the game, as they had only gained 95 total yards by halftime. The Huskies’ run game was also not as good as it had been in recent games. NIU only had 158 rushing yards in the game. Last week against Ohio University, NIU had 267 rushing yards and the week before that against Eastern Michigan University, NIU had 287 rushing yards.

Sophomore running back Harrison Waylee was responsible for a chunk of the yards on Thursday; he had 136 yards for the game. The Huskies’ other sophomore running back, Antario Brown, was held in check in this game, as he only amounted 17 rushing yards on six carries.

Defense keeps the Huskies in play

NIU’s defense was able to keep the offense on the field, forcing four fumbles in the game and recovering three. The defense also had an interception by sophomore safety Jordan White against the Chippewas’ sophomore quarterback Daniel Richardson. The Huskies’ offense was not able to capitalize on the defense’s takeaways during the game.

The Huskies also had a defensive touchdown on a scoop-and-score by redshirt senior defensive end Izayah Green-May.

“My teammate got through pretty clean and got a hit on him and punched the ball out,” Green-May said, “It fell out, I ran down on it and picked it up and my teammate C.J. Brown made a nice block for me, and then it was just green grass ahead.”

Offense comes up empty after 30 minutes

At halftime, the Huskies trailed Central Michigan 21-0. The only highlight plays for the Huskies in the first half were the defense’s two takeaways, a fumble and an interception. Cremascoli went 5-for-14 passing in the half with 51 yards. Waylee and Brown were not as productive in the first half, as they were held to only 30 yards. NIU gained a total of 43 rushing yards in the first half.

“Obviously they are playing to sell out and stop the run. Their defensive front has been stopping people in the run game, so we have to go back and figure out how we can move the ball, stay on the field and do the things that a good offense would do,” said head coach Thomas Hammock.

The Huskies had a pair of tight end touchdowns in this game, one for redshirt senior Liam Soraghan and the second for Tewes. Soraghan’s touchdown reception from Cremascoli was the first of Cremascoli’s college career.

Bowl hopes in the rear view mirror

With this loss, the Huskies are now no longer eligible for a bowl game at the end of the season.

“For us, we still have to continue to move forward. Like I said, we are going to try and play our best three games for the last three games of the season,” Hammock said. “There are guys that are playing with the understanding that this is an opportunity to go out there and show what you got for the team.”

The Huskies’ next game will be against Western Michigan University at 6 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The game will be available to watch on ESPNU.