Huskies have a shot at returning to DeKalb with Mallory Cup and second MAC win

Leon Payne, redshirt first-year wide receiver, (center) and Caleb Wright, redshirt first-year defensive linemen, run onto the field Saturday before an eventual 27-20 loss against Miami University - Ohio at Huskie Stadium.

DeKALB — After the football team lost the Mallory Cup last season in its inaugural game, the Huskies hope to win the trophy Saturday against the Miami University – Ohio RedHawks. The Mallory Cup honors the late Bill Mallory, who led NIU to its first Mid-American Conference Championship in 1983 during his three years in DeKalb as head coach. 

Mallory also coached the RedHawks to a MAC Championship in 1973. The two teams have a history playing against each other and are currently tied in wins, at nine.

Head Coach Thomas Hammock said he didn’t get to play directly under Mallory but his head coach, Joe Novak, implemented some of the same ideals Mallory did. 

“It’s a big deal,” Hammock said. “I played for Coach Novak who coached with Coach Mallory, and there’s a lot of similar traits between the two men. Coach Mallory spoke to our team quite frequently when I was a player; I played golf with him one year at a golf outing and just his passion as a coach, you can see through [playing with him].”

When the Huskies faced the RedHawks Nov. 15, NIU lost 37-13 under former Head Coach Rod Carey. NIU’s leading rusher of the game was Tre Harbison, redshirt junior running back, with 103 yards on the ground. Redshirt junior quarterback Marcus Childers finished the game with 15 completions out of 32 attempts for 157 yards for NIU.

Redshirt senior safety Adam Buirge remembers the loss, and said it hurt to have the cup taken from them on their home field. Buirge said the loss will motivate the team to a high sense of urgency during practice this week. Senior offensive lineman Christopher Perez Jr. said he also remembers the loss, and he knows how important the trophy is. 

Huskies have a shot at returning to DeKalb with Mallory Cup and second MAC win

Head Coach Thomas Hammock Oct. 4 during an eventual 27-20 loss against Ball State University, turning over the Bronze Stalk at Huskie Stadium 

“We’re going to respect our opponent just like we do everyone else, but when it comes down to what we remember, we know what they did to us last year,” Perez said. “We weren’t really happy about that, so we’re gonna treat it like every other game, but we realize there’s more meaning around this one, and it’s really just the history between the two programs.”

Senior quarterback Ross Bowers will be starting for the Huskies Saturday, coming off a win Saturday against the Ohio University Bobcats. Bowers completed 23 of 39 attempts for 338 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. The 338 yards in the air marked the third time Bowers surpassed the 300-yard mark in his career, doing so twice while at the University of California – Berkeley.

Kick off is set for 1:30 p.m Saturday in Oxford, Ohio, at Yager Stadium.

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