Huskies Take Home Opener Over Western Illinois, 41-7
Sept. 12, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois football team racked up 244 yards rushing, and held visiting Western Illinois scoreless for nearly 55 minutes, recording a convincing 41-7 win over the Leathernecks in front of 21,427 fans at Huskie Stadium Saturday night.
The Huskies scored touchdowns on four-of their first five possessions, including two touchdown runs by Chad Spann, and two touchdown passes by Chandler Harnish. Starting running back Me'co Brown finished the game with a game-high 119 yards on 14 carries, an average of 8.4 yards per carry.
"I'm proud of the youngsters coming off a tough loss last week," said NIU head coach Jerry Kill. "I thought we played hard and learned a lot from the field, good and bad. It's always good to learn with a win.
"To be honest, preparation for this week was probably tougher than it was for Wisconsin (last week). Games like tonight make you a bit nervous because we hadn't beaten Western Illinois the last three times we played them. I had a good feeling going into the game because of our kids. If you prepare well, you won't feel quite as nervous. I was pleased with our effort and we will continue to learn from our mistakes."
Spann got NIU on the board first, capping off a 52-yard, two-play drive with a seven-yard touchdown scamper. Western Illinois answered with its only touchdown of the game, a 14-yard run by quarterback Matt Barr with 4:45 remaining in the opening quarter.
Spann scored again with 3:50 remaining in the opening stanza, capping off a 63-yard, nine-play scoring drive with a three-yard run. He then hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Harnish at the 12:35 mark of the second quarter, giving the Huskies a commanding 21-7 advantage.
On NIU's ensuing drive, Jason Schepler capped off a methodical 10-play, 74-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown catch hurled by Harnish. The drive occupied 4:58, and ended at the 5:52 mark of the second stanza.
Kicker Mike Salerno added his first-of two field goals with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter, a 25-yard tally that capped off a 52-yard, six-play drive. Brown was rewarded with his lone touchdown of the game with 14:56 left in the fourth quarter, scoring on a one-yard run to extend the Huskies' lead to 38-7.
Salerno's final field goal, with 2:18 left, finished the game's scoring. Salerno is now 4-for-4 on field goals this season, and has converted his last 10 field goal attempts, dating back to the Bowling Green game last season.
The Huskies will travel to West Lafayette, Ind., for the first-ever meeting with Big Ten Conference foe Purdue next Saturday (Sept. 19). Kickoff from Ross-Aide Stadium is set for 11 a.m. CST, and will be telecast on the Big Ten Network.
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