Northern Illinois scored its second straight shut out of Eastern Michigan in Rynearson Stadium as the last time NIU held an opponent scoreless was in the same stadium two years ago. The 37-point victory margin was the Huskies' fourth-largest ever in a Mid-American Conference game.
Huskie head coach Jerry Kill earned the first Mid-American Conference win of his Northern Illinois career as NIU evened its record at 2-2 overall, 1-1 in the MAC to match its win total of a year ago Eastern Michigan fell to 1-4, 0-2.
"In college football it is very difficult to shut a team out with all of the innovative offenses in the game," Kill said. "It was an unbelievable job by our defensive players and staff. They executed and did everything we asked them to do - they tackled well and caused turnovers. I'm very proud of our players, their effort and enthusiasm."
The defense held Eastern Michigan to just 3.6 yards per play and gave up 119 rushing yards. Eastern Michigan did not penetrate the Huskies' 30-yard line in the game and NIU held the Eagles to 5-of-15 third down conversion and 2-of-6 fourth down tries. Northern Illinois picked off two passes in the first half, broke up four passes on the day and totaled six tackles for loss.
Offensively, the Huskies got a 100-yard rushing game from true freshman Me'co Brown, who earned 111 yards on 17 carries, as NIU averaged 5.5 yards per rush in the game with 235 total yards. Quarterback Dan Nicholson completed 11-of-15 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, with five of those going to senior Greg Turner.
"It all starts up front with the offensive line," Kill said. "We've been getting after `em pretty good that they need to be more physical. The running backs did a good job; Danny (Nicholson) managed the game well and did exactly what we needed him to do."
The Huskies scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 2:42 of the first quarter with Brown scoring on a 26-yard run to complete a 12-play, 83-yard drive. After linebacker Tim McCarthy picked off EMU quarterback Andy Schmitt and returned it 20 yards to the Eastern Michigan 11-yard line, back-up QB DeMarcus Grady scored on a nine-yard run to give NIU a 14-0 lead and the Huskies never looked back.
Northern Illinois added a touchdown in each of the next three quarters - on a two-yard run by Marcus Perez, a four-yard Nicholson to Kyle Skarb completion, and an eight-yard run by Justin Anderson, respectively - to build a 35-0 lead. Fittingly, the Huskie defense capped off the scoring when D.J. Pirkle sacked EMU quarterback Jason Williams in the end zone for a safety. It was NIU's first safety since the 2004 season.
NIU steps out of MAC play again next Saturday when they take on Tennessee in Knoxville. Kickoff for that game is 6 p.m. (Central).
Northern Illinois Shuts Out Eastern Michigan
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