After losing 3 games so far this season by 4 points or less, the Huskies finally pick up that close win that they have been looking for beating the Redhawks 17-14.
Watching Miami in the last part of the game, I was sure we were about to find yet another way to lose a close game. Luckily, our defense is extremely solid this year, proving their worth in the last few games. Here are NIU's current national rankings:
#19 in Total Defense
#15 in Scoring Defense
In fact, our defense has given up only 1 offensive TD in the last 4 games (Tennessee).
CB Melvin Rice was a beast in the secondary, breaking up 2 passes while making 7 tackles. OLB Alex Kube finally had a good game making 5 tackles and an essential TFL. OLB Josh Allen got all the press for helping knock down the final pass by the Miami Redhawks.
QB DeMarcus Grady went down late in the 1st half with a minor ankle injury. I'm sure we were all surprised to see Chandler Harnish run out there to play the QB position. It seems like all our QBs go down at the same time during the game. Maybe they should just stop playing towards the end of the 2nd quarter.
Harnish surprised everybody by not only making plays with his arm, but his feet as well. He really has some guts and may have the poise to lead this team the next 3 years.
RB Me'co Brown was the unsung hero in the backfield rushing for 123 yds on only 16 carries. Chad Spann was a red-zone demon, forcing his way in to the end-zone in the 3rd quarter for the Huskies to go up 17-13.
WR Marcus Perez recovered from his eye injury nicely, catching 4 passes for 76 yds. 6'3" SO Landon Cox had a nice TD catch in the corner of the end-zone in the start of the 2nd quarter. He could be a red-zone threat for years.
Here's where it gets interesting.
First of all, we would have won this game by a much wider margin if K Mike Salerno would have made his FGs from 30 or 48 yds. He did, however, make a 38-yarder in the 1st quarter.
On the 48-yarder, the LS Nolan Owen recorded a false start which moved us back an extra 4 yds. Salerno had the length, but missed it wide-right. You can either place blame on Salerno or the offense for stalling and not punching it in to the end-zone.
That isn't all of the special teams blunders. In the weirdest play of the game, P Andy Dittbenner punts a "rugby" style punt right to Eugene Harris who in return ran right to the end-zone.
“Bad coaching on my part,” Kill said. “I’ve got to do a better job. Should have probably done something different. Instead of rugby punting it we should have gone the other way with it. That’s on me, not on the kid (Dittbenner).”
Overall, this was an excellent win that was an absolute necessity at this point in the season. Hopefully we can correct whatever mistakes that need to be corrected for next weeks homecoming showdown against the Toledo Rockets.