Broncos can’t stop NIU rushing attack, get blown out 38-3

October 4, 2009

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By Eric Woodyard

Western Herald

Western Michigan cornerback David Lewis stops Northern Illinois running back Chad Spann. However, Spann had 132 yards and three touchdowns in the Huskies 38-3 win Saturday.

Although the sky was gloomy and the weather was dismal, the fans in the DeKalb, Ill. city limits have a reason to rejoice.

Celebrating its 2009 homecoming, the Northern Illinois University Huskies commemorated the year with a 38-3 beat down over the Western Michigan University Broncos.

Beginning the game with identical overall records, 2-2, the Huskies not only snapped the Broncos’ two-game winning streak, but also ended its three-game losing streak to the university. Prior to this contest, the Huskies had not tasted victory over the Broncos since 2005.

“In my five years here that’s about as bad as I’ve seen our kids. We played about as bad as we could have possibly played and it was a good game win for them and an embarrassing game for us,” WMU head coach Bill Cubit said. “They out toughed us mentally and they out toughed us physically and they were a better football team out there than we were.”

Noticeably charged from the support of its home crowd, the Huskies struck quick and often.

Coming into the game as the Mid-American Conference’s top rushing school, with 188 yards per game, the Huskies had no problem displaying why. Fueled by the ball carrying of Me’co Brown and Chad Spann, the Broncos had no answer as NIU rushed for 253 total yards.

Initially, WMU tried to respond with a similar attack, but Bronco running back Brandon West proved to be no real offensive threat. West rushed for 44 yards on 11 attempts by halftime and only 58 total yards on 14 carries by the game’s end, making it tough for the team to produce points.

“The first few drives they came out and gave us what we expected and we just did not finish drives,” WMU quarterback Tim Hiller said. “We did not match their intensity level today or their level of execution “

NIU’s stellar play began on the opening drive of the first quarter, which it took less than five minutes for them to put points on the scoreboard (4:29 to be exact). On nine plays for 74 yards, the Huskies invaded the end zone after sophomore quarterback Chandler Harnish connected on a 33-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Palmer.

WMU wide receiver Robert Arnheim catches a pass while under pressure from Northern Illinois cornerback Kiaree Daniels.

wmu fb2 From then on the Huskies were in the driver’s seat as NIU bullied the Brown & Gold. Chad Spann had his way as he rushed for a career-high 132 yards while piling up three touchdowns, including a 20-yard rush at the 1:17 mark of the second quarter to close the half. This gave the Huskies a 14-3 lead.

Spann was complemented by Me’co Brown who gained 92 yards while averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

The troubles only escalated for WMU when Tim Hiller began the second half by throwing a pass that was intercepted by Patrick George. George then proceeded to run the ball for an extra 32 yards after the play.

“I turned the ball over three times today, maybe four with the snap and I take full responsibility for that and it was my fault,” Hiller said. “With the way we run our system with the offense, it all falls on the quarterback so I’m gonna do what I need to do in order to get better this week but that’s my fault.”

The three interceptions weren’t the only problem for Hiller, as he only connected on 18 of his 35 passing attempts. This was also the only the third time that he hasn’t threw for a touchdown in his entire career, which may have had to do with the absence of one of his main wide receivers, Juan Nunez, who missed the game due to a knee injury.

While the effort was sloppy on the part of the Broncos, it was the flip side for its opponent. In their eyes, it was all about protecting their home field while not letting down their coach.

“We talked about how coach (Jerry) Kill hasn’t lost a homecoming game in eight years,” Spann said. “We had families, alumni and Leshon Johnson (former NFL player) in the stands, and it really helped us on the field today.”

The Broncos will pick back up action next Saturday when they take on the University of Toledo at 7 p.m. in the Glass Bowl.

*click on the pic to view this at the Western Herald!

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