DeKALB – Heading into Saturday’s game, Kent State announced it would experiment with a two-quarterback offense against the Huskies.
But after Northern Illinois sophomore Daniel Santacaterina struggled to string together any momentum during NIU’s first couple drives, it was instead the Huskies who went with a fresh face under center.
NIU coach Rod Carey found new life in redshirt freshman Marcus Childers, whose three touchdowns helped lead NIU to a 24-3 victory over Kent State in the Mid-American Conference opener at Huskie Stadium.
Childers completed 13 of 21 passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns. He kept Kent State’s defense on its toes, too, rushing for 17 yards on 65 carries.
With the game still scoreless, Carey went to Childers during NIU’s third drive. The 12 play, 80 yard drive was highlighted by a 28-yard rush from Childers and capped with a 10-yard completion to Spencer Tears.
NIU’s defense had no trouble containing both Kent State quarterbacks. Junior George Bollas and freshman Dustin Crum completed a combined 6 of 17 passes for just 29 yards with three interceptions.
Crum was one of Kent State's few bright spots on offense. He led all rushers with 15 carries for 77 yards.
But it was the Huskies defense who shined on a rainy, overcast Homecoming day, limiting the Golden Flashes to just 131 total yards. Jawuan Johnson led NIU with 12 tackles, including two tackles for loss and one interception.
The last six minutes of the second quarter were drama-filled.
NIU had a big goal line stand when it stopped Justin Rankin on third and goal from the three. Officials initially called a touchdown, but moments later, reversed the call. Kent State kicker Shane Hynes converted the 18-yard field goal to put the Golden Flashes on the board.
On the ensuing kick off, Hynes’ kick was short and the ball hit an NIU player's helmet. The Golden Flashes recovered the kickoff and began a new drive inside the Huskies' red zone. However, just four plays later, NIU defensive back Shawun Lurry intercepted Crum for his second pick of the year. At the end of his 48-yard return, Lurry lateralled to Mycial Allen who was stopped near midfield.
NIU capitalzied on the new momentum as Childers scambled and found Shane Wimann for a 25-yard TD, giving the Huskies a 14-3 lead at halftime.
The Huskies added to the defiict at the begining of the third quarter. NIU took over at the Kent State 11 after Raymond James fumbled a punt from Matt Ference. Childers made use of the short field, completing a 2-yard TD pass to Jordan Huff.
UP next: NIU travels to Buffalo Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.