2011 Marathon MAC Championship Game - NIU 23, Ohio 20

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES

Dec. 3, 2011

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***Northern Illinois tied the largest-comeback in school history at 20 points with the 23-20 win over Ohio. Here are the previous largest comebacks (thanks to former NIU SID Mike Korcek for passing on this information Friday night!)

Deficit: 26-6 in third quarter -- Final: Northern Illinois 27, Nebraska-Omaha 26 (Away) (Nov. 17, 1951)

Deficit: 20-0, at halftime -- Final: Northern Illinois 24, Bowling Green State 23 (Home) (October 23, 1983)

Deficit: 27-7 in third quarter -- Final: Northern Illinois 48, Miami (OH) 41 (Away) (Oct. 12, 2002)

***Northern Illinois staked claim to its second-ever Mid-American Conference Championship with the 23-20 victory. The Huskies are 10-3 after the victory today. The Huskies first championship was back in 1983 when the Huskies finished the year 10-2.

***Northern Illinois won 10 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. NIU went 11-3 last year and is now 10-3 in 2011. The 10-win season is just the fifth ever for NIU (1963, 1983, 2003, 2010, 2011).

***NIU's defense gave up just 70 yards (31 rushing, 39 passing) in the second half while limiting Ohio to 4-of-11 completions.

***For the second time in three games, NIU kicker Mat Sims kicked the game-winning field goal in the final minute of the game. Sims converted a 33-yard field goal with time expiring in the championship game. Sims made the first game-winner of his career against Ball State Nov. 15, nailing the three-pointer with eight seconds left in the contest to left NIU over BSU, 41-38.

***Northern Illinois receiver Nathan Palmer was named the MAC Championship MVP after his two touchdowns and 132 all-purpose yards against the Bobcats. Palmer nabbed four passes for 115 yards and had four rushes for 17 yards. He leads NIU in touchdown catches with seven on the year. The 100-yard receiving game was his second of the season and third of his career.

***NIU's Jhony Faustin made his first career interception, and recorded the first interception by a Huskie since the Buffalo game on Oct. 22. NIU had gone four games (all of November) without an interception. Jhony Faustin recorded a career-high in tackles for the second-consecutive week with nine today. Last week against Eastern Michigan he recorded eight stops.

***Chandler Harnish was picked off for the first time since the Western Michigan game (Oct. 15) and only the fifth time this season in the first quarter when his pass went off the hands of Da'Ron Brown. Harnish had gone 159 passes without throwing an interception prior to that pass.

***Northern Illinois turned the ball over a season-high five times in the game, four on fumbles.

***NIU sophomore Jimmie Ward recorded his first career interception in the fourth quarter.

***The Huskies intercepted a season-best three passes in the game. The Huskies' last three INT game was Oct. 23, 2010, when the NIU defense picked off Central Michigan four times in a 33-7 victory.

***Kicker Mathew Sims missed just his second PAT of the season after the Huskies' second touchdown. Sims made 40 straight point-after touchdown attempts, last missing versus Cal Poly Sept. 24. He is now 59-61 this season.

***Northern Illinois' 20-point comeback was the largest by the team this season. The Huskies erased a 17-point deficit Nov. 15, 2011, against Ball State. In 1983, the last-time the Huskies won the MAC, NIU trailed Bowling Green by 20 points and eventually defeated the Falcons, 24-23.

*** Huskie WR Nathan Palmer recorded his second 100-yard receiving game of 2011 and the third of his career with his four reception, 115 yard performance. Palmer's two previous 100-yard games came Aug. 30, 2008, at Minnesota and Nov. 1, 2011, at Toledo.

***Running back Jasmin Hopkins led Northern Illinois' rushing effort on 11 carries and 60 yards. Hopkins also made three receptions for eight yards, with two of those receptions occurring on the final drive to setup Mat Sims final field goal. It was the first time since Oct. 1, Central Michigan, that Chandler Harnish was not the leading-rusher. Hopkins totaled 95 yards on 18 carries that day.

***Cornerback Rashaan Melvin totaled two pass break ups in the contest, both near interceptions. Melvin had two breakups against Western Michigan (Oct. 15) earlier this season.