Allen: 'It was a bittersweet moment'
DETROIT – Mycial Allen saved his best performance for last.
During his final career game in the 2017 Quick Lane Bowl against Duke at Ford Field, the Northern Illinois safety delivered a season-best 12 tackles, including eight solo stops.
Allen’s efforts, however, weren’t enough as Duke topped NIU, 36-14. But he isn’t letting Tuesday’s outcome stop him from cherishing the memories he built with his NIU teammates over his last five years in DeKalb.
“The seniors I came in with – we share a bond that is unbreakable,” he said. “It’s a bond nobody can break. This experience I had with my guys, I’ll never forget.”
[Photos by Jose Juarez/AP]
For Allen, a Detroit native, Tuesday’s game had a bit more meaning. He had played at Ford Field numerous times before, including winning Pop Warner championships during the earliest stages of his football career. According to his uncle, Kenyon Reese Sr., Allen had 40-plus family members and close friends in attendance to witness his final college game.
“It was a bittersweet moment,” Allen said.
Leading up to the bowl game, Allen had the most experience of any player on NIU’s roster, playing in 52 career games. His leadership showed on the field.
While NIU’s defense, which was without a pair of key starters in defensive lineman Ben Leroy and safety Shawun Lurry, struggled to contain Duke quarterback Daniel Jones and the Blue Devils’ offense, Allen did his best to stand out.
NIU coach Rod Carey thanked Allen for his efforts and said he’s leaving behind a legacy for younger players to follow.
“We’re certainly going to miss Mycial and all the seniors,” Carey said. “What they’ve accomplished. … I know we were on the short end of the stick here the last two games, but for us to be in this position after last year, speaks volume to the senior class and what we’re building moving forward and the legacy they left.
“The young guys now see what you have to do, how hard you have to work to get to that next level.”
Before playing in the Quick Lane Bowl, Allen participated in winter commencement Dec. 17 at the NIU Convocation Center, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in general studies.
He concludes his NIU career with 150 tackles with 100 solo stops. Allen’s high school coach said he believes Allen has all the tools to be successful at the next level and that NIU’s loss to Duke is another life lesson for him to build on.
“We’re proud of him,” King High School football coach Ty Spencer said. “He comes from humble beginnings, and you never really lose that. We’ll all still be in his corner, making sure he’s on the right road. … He’ll land somewhere. I’m confident he has enough ability and talent to do that.”