First and foremost, I hate Ford Field. It is one of the cruelest stadiums in America for the Northern Illinois Huskies. The 2005 loss to Akron was crushing to my soul. 2010 was just about as bad, if not worse with the team we had vs. Miami OH. Last year we finally won it, but just barely by scoring 23 unanswered points after Ohio went up 20-0. That was a terrible feeling. By the way, what happened to Ohio this year? This year's game was just an emotional roller-coaster, but I believe it was the best performance that NIU has ever put together in the MAC Championship. In 1983, the first time they won it, there was no championship game yet to decide the winner.
The MAC Championship's been around since 1997 and this is the first overtime game? That was unbelievable to hear with all the years of #MACtion reigning upon us. Marshall owned that conference until 2002 when they left. Is NIU the new Marshall? Is Jordan Lynch our Byron Leftwich? Shades of things to come in our bowl game?
Despite out-gaining the Kent State Golden Flashes 524-260 yds, they did what they did best and forced 3 turnovers, got the penalty calls going their way. It shouldn't have been that close, but it was because, well, #MACtion.
Let's just take this quarter by quarter:
To start the game, defensive lineman Ken Bishop was in the backfield as to send something of a message to the Golden Flashes. He was our Fridge and this was going to be a hard-nosed game. We were going to run right at you and we did.
Just a bunch of tight, tight championship defense for Kent State and NIU as well. The thing you don't want to do is turn the ball over vs. Kent and that's exactly what happened with Angelo Sebastiano on a punt return. Credit to Kent for being so opportunistic throughout the year. This led to a 15 yd rush by Dri Archer for a TD.
Then it was just nothing, intentional grounding and an 18-yd punt that led to a FG by Kent to put them up 10-0. Getting nervous at this point. NIU just needed some points of any sort and scored a field goal on a 14-play drive, highlighted by a 17 yd Jordan Lynch run on 4th and 3.
Sebastiano rebounded on his next punt return and got the Huskies great field position past our own 40 yd line. Then the offense was just on from there. The result was a 14 yd TD to Martel Moore. The offense was starting to open up.
What happened next? A miracle interception by Dechane Durante, just grasping the ball out of the air above him like he personally owned the ball. Unbelievable. What happened next? Just another typical NIU drive with a bunch of Lynch rushes. Akeem Daniels put it in after Lynch got the Huskies to the goal line.
This pumped up the defense as they would sack Spencer Keith on both of Kent's next two drives. In the middle of that sandwich was a Lynch interception though. Oh well, I enjoyed being up going into the half.
Kent gets a FG after Melvin was called with a PI call. Penalties were huge in this game. NIU was 8-62 and Kent had zero penalties all game. That doesn't seem correct to me.
The next drive Jordan Lynch started adding to his Heisman reel. 4th and 1 and you rush for 44 yds are you kidding me? Unbelievable. This was the turning point in the game where everybody texted me and my phone almost blew up. This was NIU making a statement that we were the MAC Champs and that we were a second half team.
24-13 NIU. Then it was back to Spencer Keith getting sacked and NIU putting a decent drive together to go up 27-13. The game was in the books at this point, no?
The Kent defense all of a sudden started to get tight. They stopped NIU and Dri Archer caught a 60 yd bomb to set up a TD for the Golden Flashes. OK, we can deal with being up 27-20... Until Kent tied it up on the next play returning a flubbed handoff for a touchdown.
Okay, we officially have #MACtion
The next NIU drive: 4 plays, 75 yds, Lynch TD after a 43 yd reception by Akeem Daniels. OK we're back on top!
You thought this was over, didn't you? Kent drives to tie the game 34-34 and we're heading into overtime.
With about 30 secs left, Doeren runs out the clock to go to OT. No sense letting Kent return another pick for a TD, I suppose.
NIU won the toss and started out on defense. This is always the best choice, because when the offense goes on they know what they need to tie or win the game. Kent kicks a field goal and Matthew Sims kicks a field goal and I almost have a heart attack.
Akeem Daniels again with a 23-yarder with a Lynch punch-in. That was just what we needed.
Demetrius Stone INT on 4th down to win the game. Awesome.
NIU is MAC Champs again. GO HUSKIES!!