DeKALB – Northern Illinois quarterbacks Matt McIntosh, Anthony Maddie and Drew Hare spent spring practice and fall camp battling for the Huskies' starting job.
The competition extended into Thursday night's season opener against Presbyterian, as each quarterback got playing time.
After the 55-3 win against the struggling Football Championship Subdivision school, NIU coach Rod Carey said he liked what he saw from all three.
"I'm going to have to go back and look at [the film]. My gut right now is that they all three played really well, but these two (Hare and McIntosh) played really well in the first half, and then Maddie went in there and did some really good things as well," Carey said after the game Thursday night. "Right now, it's tough to argue against what we just did, but you may watch the film and see something else."
McIntosh led the Huskies on three scoring drives in the first quarter. Hare took over in the second quarter and was under center for five drives, with his final pass a 49-yard touchdown to Juwan Brescacin. Maddie got into the game after it was out of hand.
McIntosh was impressive, going 10 of 14 for 87 yards and a touchdown – a 39-yarder to senior receiver Da'Ron Brown.
"It felt great," McIntosh said. "Coach (Bob) Cole had a great call, the offensive line gave me a great pocket and Da'Ron Brown is a great wide receiver, so all I had to do was throw it up and let him get it."
Hare struggled at first, but ended up with a good performance, going 8 of 13 for 100 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 59 yards. Maddie played with the backups, and threw only four passes, completing one for 24 yards.
The question is: How much longer will the competition last? At the beginning of spring practice, when the battle began, Carey said he wanted to play one quarterback.
However, with everything being as close as it was, Carey went with a rotation Thursday.
Carey wouldn't rule out playing multiple quarterbacks Sept. 6 against Northwestern.
"Right now, it's tough to argue with what we just did," Carey said. "So you make the case that way, but then you watch film, you may make a case another way. We'll see."
It's possible the public won't know the starter until whoever it is takes the first NIU snap at Ryan Field next weekend.