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NIU football: Childers building confidence, Jones steps up with banged up Huff, Wimann leads Huskies

Carey: 'We made enough plays to get that win'

NIU running back Marcus Jones (21) stiff arms Eastern Michigan Eagles defensive lineman Derrick Dunlap (93) to pick up some additional yards on the catch at Huskies Stadium in DeKalb October 26.
NIU running back Marcus Jones (21) stiff arms Eastern Michigan Eagles defensive lineman Derrick Dunlap (93) to pick up some additional yards on the catch at Huskies Stadium in DeKalb October 26.

DeKALB – Northern Illinois quarterback Marcus Childers had his best performance in his third career start during last week’s, 30-27 overtime win against Eastern Michigan. He racked up 332 yards including two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.

Childers’ performance earned him the Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Week award. But more importantly, according to NIU coach Rod Carey, it was a timely sign of progression for the redshirt freshman signal caller.

“The growth that I’ve seen in (Marcus) the past few weeks … It’s his confidence,” Carey said. “It’s easy to come in as a relief pitcher, it’s a whole different thing to be the starter. He’s done a good job with that.”

NIU running back Marcus Jones admitted Childers had a couple hiccups early on, but has recovered nicely.

“He got his first start against Buffalo and he came out shaky,” Jones said. “But once Marcus got his confidence going and was more sure of himself, he’s been able to make plays. That’s when you saw him making those reads, we know what Marcus can do.”

Childers helped the Huskies complete a two-touchdown comeback against Eastern Michigan. He capped a 7-play, 74 yard drive with a 5 yard pass to Shane Wimann in the fourth quarter to trim the deficit to a touchdown. With less than three minutes remaining, Childers tied up the game on a 10 yard rushing touchdown to force overtime.

“He was certainly timely last week,” Carey said. “He’s got to keep going … Game reps are invaluable.”

Wimann leads Huskies in touchdowns: Although NIU’s offense has gone M.I.A at times throughout the season, tight end Shane Wimann has been a consistent threat for the Huskies. Wimann leads the team in touchdowns with six scores through eight games.

This season, Wimann has hauled in 21 catches for 225 yards and six touchdowns. He came through with another important score last week to help cut into Eastern Michigan’s lead.

Wimann has now scored a touchdown in four-straight games dating back to Oct. 7 against Kent State.

“When you think about our offense, I know at times it has struggled and I think our guys on offense will admit that,” Carey said. “But their confidence isn’t shaken by that. We know we have good players and they know they’re capable and anybody is. Shane has proven that throughout the year.”

Huff available but not ready, Jones steps up: NIU tailback Jordan Huff has missed two straight games with a left foot injury, but Huskie running back Marcus Jones said he feels like NIU hasn’t missed a beat.

Jones scored the game-winning overtime touchdown against the Eagles, when he bulldozed through Eastern Michigan defenders for a 9 yard scores. Childers led the Huskies in rushing with 16 carries for 54 yards, while Jones added 49 yards on 13 carries.

“The opportunities presented itself,” Jones said. “The three of us (Huff, Jones and Tommy Mister) are capable of being at that starting position and can make big plays. With Huff being out … It was my time to make a play.”

Huff’s status remains day-to-day, but Carey did say he will be available to play at Toledo. Carey, however, did also point out Huff hasn’t practiced much this week and the coaching staff still needs to make assessments whether or not they think he can contribute.

Mister, who was also banged up last week, had four carries for 12 yards against EMU.

Huff is NIU’s leading rusher with 85 carries for 450 yards and one touchdown. Jones has gained 236 yards on 236 carries with three touchdowns, while Mister has added 35 rushes for 167 yards and one touchdown.

Carey said, “We made enough plays to get that win.”

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