Sept. 7, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois linebacker Cory Hanson and kicker Mike Salerno were named the Mid-American Conference West Division Defensive Player and Specialist of the Week, respectively, by the league office on Monday. The honors came for their efforts in NIU's 28-20 loss at Wisconsin in the 2009 season opener on Saturday.
Hanson, a senior from Minneapolis, Minn., earned MAC honors for the first time in his career after picking off two passes and making three tackles Saturday. Hanson, who has five career interceptions, is tied for fourth in the country in that category after the first week of games. His first interception came just one play after an NIU fumble and enabled the Huskies to regain momentum and remain within eight points of the Badgers at halftime at 14-6. His second pickoff was critical to Northern Illinois' fourth-quarter comeback as it came one play after NIU's first touchdown, giving the Huskies the ball at the Wisconsin 31-yard line and setting up the Huskies' final score.
"Cory deserves it," said NIU head coach Jerry Kill. "Those interceptions were really big plays in the game and, especially the second one, gave us a chance at the end."
Salerno connected on a pair of first-half field goals - of 40 and 29 yards - to account for the Huskies' first half scoring and keep NIU in the game. The senior from Orland Park, Ill. (Carl Sandburg HS), averaged 68.0 yards on his four deep kickoffs with a touchback and executed a perfect onside kick that Northern Illinois recovered with 2:46 remaining. The Lou Groza Award candidate has made eight consecutive field goals dating back to last season.
"I wouldn't trade our kicker for anyone in the country," Kill said. "He does everything we ask of him and has really worked on that onside kick. I don't think anyone does it better."
The Huskies play Western Illinois Saturday, Sept. 12 in their 2009 home opener with kickoff at 6:30 p.m. (Central). The game will be televised by Comcast SportsNet Chicago and will be available nationwide through the ESPN GamePlan package.
Tickets are available for $20 for the general public and can be purchased online at www.niuhuskies.com or by calling the NIU Athletics Ticket Office at 815-752-6800.
-- NIU --
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