Nov. 27, 2009
Final Stats |
MT. PLEASANT, Mich. - Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour threw three touchdown passes and Bryan Schroeder scored three times, including on an 80-yard run, to lead MAC West Division champion Central Michigan to a 45-31 victory over Northern Illinois Friday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
Northern Illinois fell to 7-5 overall, 5-3 in the MAC while Central Michigan improved to 10-2 overall and completed a perfect 8-0 season versus league opponents. The Huskies finished the regular season with seven wins for the first time since 2006.
For the second straight year, NIU made a run at the Chippewas in the fourth quarter, outscoring CMU 21-7 in the period. However, Central Michigan's lone touchdown - on a 27-yard interception return by Frank Zombo with 3:58 on the clock, was enough to thwart the Huskies' efforts.
LeFevour completed 27-of-41 passes to eight different receivers for 255 yards, and ran for 24 yards on six carries. Schroeder ran for 128 yards on nine carries and two rushing touchdowns and caught four passes for 41 yards and a score.
"The key to their success is their quarterback and passing game," said NIU head coach Jerry Kill. "We always have to try and contain the pass and it opens up the running game for them as well. They played really well, especially in the third quarter to pull away from us."
Northern Illinois' Chandler Harnish countered with 206 yards on 17-of-28 passing and two scores to go along with two interceptions. Junior tailback Chad Spann added 83 yards for 16 carries and tied the Huskies' single season record for rushing touchdowns on a six-yard run in the fourth quarter, his 19th of the year.
Schroeder's 80-yard run on the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter gave the Chippewas a 31-10 lead. After a Northern Illinois punt, CMU extended the margin to 38-10 on their next possession when LeFevour hit Bryan Anderson for a 16-yard score to complete a 14-play, 78-yard drive.
The Huskies' comeback began when cornerback Patrick George
caught a tipped pass off the arm of CMU back-up quarterback Ryan Radcliff and returned it 80 yards for his first career score with 12:50 left in the game.
A Chippewa fumble gave the ball back to the Huskies at their own 31-yard line. Harnish drove Northern Illinois eight plays in 69 yards, picking up 23 yards on a third-and-six play and hitting Martel Moore on a 19-yard strike along the way. Spann scored on a six-yard run and NIU had closed the gap to 38-24 with 8:25 on the clock.
The Huskie defense forced another punt, but Harnish was intercepted by Zombo, whose touchdown sealed the CMU victory.
"I'm proud of our team. We got down but we never gave up. I don't think we have quit since we've been here, but we have to get better as a football team," Kill said. "We got a chance to get back in the game, but they did a good job recovering onside kicks when we got close."
Northern Illinois gave up season highs in total yards (512) and rushing yards (257). Senior Marcus Lewis caught six passes for 40 yards and added his third touchdown reception in as many games on a seven-yard reception in the fourth quarter for the Huskies' last score.
The NIU defense pressured LeFevour on several occasions but the veteran signal-caller was sacked just once in the game and, as he has throughout his career, managed to hit receivers for big plays. The Chippewas converted 12-of-18 third downs in the game.
-- NIU -
For more information, contact Donna Turner, NIU Athletics Media Relations, 815-753-9513 or 815-793-5474. TO get the latest on Huskie Athletics, read "Huskie Happenings" daily on www.niuhuskies.com.