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 drives 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.
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.
"It's a big deal whenever we can give the offense the ball back," Allen said. "Interceptions, turnovers those are a big deal. We want to get the offense the ball back whenever we can."
Points off the board: Eastern marched down the field on its 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.
"I thought we were opportunistic on offense and really opportunistic on defense," coach Rod Carey said. "I thought that set the tone for the whole game the way our defense played. I'm happy with the way they rallied to the ball and it set up everything we did."
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. The Huskies committed 15 penalties for 194 yards.
"We had our fair share of penalties for sure that we need to get better at and we need to clean up," Carey said. "But then again, I don't agree with the way the spirit of this game was called, and I'll leave it at that. I'm not going to bring it out into the public."