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DeKALB — Northern Illinois led Central Michigan by 10 points at halftime of the Huskies' 55-24 win.
NIU pulled ahead in the second half, and wasn't forced to come from behind as was the case the past two weeks in wins over Army and Kansas. But in the locker room during the break, head coach Dave Doeren's team was not happy.
"It's funny, we were up by 10 at half and everyone in the locker room was mad. Because we felt like we hadn't played our best yet," Doeren said. "We've got a group of guys that doesn't want to underachieve. They want to play at their utmost best all the time. We left a few plays out there in the first half, we knew it."
Coming out of the break, Central Michigan got off to a great start when Titus Davis took a short pass from quarterback Ryan Radcliff 92 yards for a touchdown.
However, after Davis' touchdown, NIU outscored the Chippewas, 31-3.
"Unfortunately we started about as bad as we could there in the third quarter," Doeren said. "... We can't do that. We can't be a big-play defense and we won't be. But, really happy with the focus and really just how we react to negative plays."
Harris, others get time: Saturday's blowout victory gave some NIU backups a chance at some playing time.
One player who took advantage of the opportunity was true freshman running back Keith Harris Jr. He ran for a touchdown against Iowa Week 1, but has been seen sparingly since the season opener.
Saturday, Harris ran the ball six times for 66 yards and a touchdown, including a 53-yard run.
"There was just a lot of positives. I love the fact that our young players got in at the end of the game," Doeren said. "It was fun to see Keith Harris get a big run and (sophomore fullback) Ricky Connors come in and get a big block for him."
NIU ready to face desperate Ball State team: The Mid-American Conference's West Division has been looking strong early in the season.
Next week, NIU heads to Muncie, Ind. to take on an improved Ball State team. The Cardinals suffered a close 45-43 loss at Kent State Saturday, with the Golden Flashes kicking a late game-winning field goal.
Doeren said Ball State is in a situation similar to the one the Huskies were in last year, when they lost their MAC opener. Doeren said the Cardinals are in a must-win situation.
"I'm glad we're going there 1-0 in the league, not 0-1, I'll tell you that," he said.
Moore keeps on rolling: Saturday was the fourth consecutive game Huskie senior receiver Martel Moore has caught a touchdown pass. Moore caught a 14-yard touchdown, his fifth of the season, from quarterback Jordan Lynch in the first quarter. He finished with three catches for 45 yards.