Northern Illinois defeats Ohio 23-20 in miracle MAC Championship comeback

I don't know how they did it. The whole world was against them, but it happened anyways.

The NIU Huskies are your 2011 MAC Champions, their first championship since 1983. Let that sink in for a while.

I said that we win if we don't turn the ball over and beat ourselves. I also said that this team loses no resolve when the game turns out to be close or a shootout.

It truly was a tale of two halves as the Huskies did everything they could to blow the game against the Ohio Bobcats early on. Continuing the theme of this team being one of destiny, the Huskies just wouldn't let this happen.

Ohio capitalized off of three turnovers in the first half. Three plays after an NIU pick of Tettleton, a drop by Da'Ron Brown that Ohio capitalized on. Ohio would only score a field goal. The second was a fumble on a return by TommyLee Lewis after Ohio had done up 13-0. Dechane Durante would erase hope of an Ohio score with an interception of his own.

In a must-score drive, Chandler Harnish drove it to the Ohio 3 yd line before fumbling the ball after succumbing under pressure by the Ohio D. Ohio turned around and scored a touchdown, going up 20-0.

On the must-must-score drive after getting the ball in the second half, WR Jamison Wells dropped the ball on the ground on the first drive. My jaw was on the floor. I couldn't believe this was happening.

Whatever Doeren told the defense at halftime worked. Ohio would not score another point and NIU would score 23.

Ohio blew their load early on with razzle dazzle trick plays, scoring their first touchdown on a double reverse pass. After Ohio went up, in typical Frank Solich fashion, the offense went conservative. They took some shots deep, but those were mostly fruitless efforts.

The Huskie offense that was successful all season was still there on the field. NaPalm went bonkers, scoring TDs of 39 and 22 yds with a Martel Moore TD mixed inbetween.

The only chance Ohio had at scoring in the 2nd half was a 36-yard field goal that (Special Teams player of the year???) Matt Weller missed. After that field goal, Jimmie Ward somehow picked the ball off after Jordan Delegal made a near-fatal offsides penalty.

The defense, who was a subject of criticism throughout most of the season, won this game for the Huskies. Everybody is returning next year. Chandler Harnish never gave up, even after he made mistakes and his receivers dropped balls. He knew the Huskies were going to win this one and kept his composure throughout.

This game had happened before against Central Michigan. The Huskies knew how to handle coming from behind this time.

All though Matthew Sims missed an extra point to make things interesting, he made a 33-yarder at the end to win a game.

So many things went wrong and so many things went right and this team truly was a team of destiny and I hope they enjoy this MAC Championship for a long, long time. After so many near-misses it truly feels great to win the MAC for so many people, including Joe Novak.


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