DeKALB – Not that the Northern Illinois football team wasn't really ever in control in a 38-10 win against Eastern Illinois on Saturday, but a couple of drive in the second quarter put the Huskies firmly in command.
Up 14-3 in the second quarter, the Huskies (1-1) put together a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that included third third-down conversions. On a third-and-15, Daniel Santacaterina found D.J. Brown for 15 and a first. They scored on a third and 8 from the EIU 18 when Santacaterina found Christian Blake.
Then the NIU defense, dominating all day, forced Mitch Kimble to throw and interception to Mykelti Williams, who took it to the Eastern 30.
Five plays later, Marcus Jones plunged into the end zone and the Huskies were up 28-3.
Santacaterina's big day: Getting the start for an injured Ryan Graham, Santacaterina went 23 for 34 for 252 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once, in the second half when the Huskies already had a big lead.
He completed passes to eight different receivers, including seven to D.J Brown, who had 88 yards.
Fortune favors the bold: Facing a fourth-and-19 from the EIU 39, the Huskies went for it and unleashed Santacaterina. He hit Spencer Tears on a streak, in stride down the right side for the first score of the game.
Right place, right time: Mycial Allen intercepted Mitch Kimble late in the first quarter on a pass thrown directly to him over the middle. He returned it 17 yards to the EIU 18. Marcus Jones ended up with a 4-yard scoring plunge on third down, giving NIU a 14-3 lead early in the second.
Points off the board: Eastern marched down the field on their first possession, reaching the Huskie 20. The Panthers made a 37-yard field goal but were called for an illegal formation. They were backed up 5 yards and brought the offense back out, but failed to pick up the fourth-down conversion.
Block party: One area off for NIU on Saturday was the field goal until. Christian Hagan had two attempts blocked. This on the heels of his game-tying attempt last week against Boston College being tipped.
Flag squad: Another rough spot for NIU was penalties. They committed 15 penalties for 194 yards.