Central Michigan-Northern Illinois: Fans Got Their Money's Worth in This One
For the third game in a row, the Chippewas gave their fans a scare. This time, Central Michigan took a 23-3 halftime lead but decided a blowout win would be no fun, letting host Northern Illinois force overtime in an eventual 33-30 victory.
The Chippewas came out firing on all cylinders, scoring on five of the first seven drives. A balanced scoring attack of a field goal, two rushing touchdowns (both by Dan LeFevour) and two receiving touchdowns (Antonio Brown, Ontario Sneed).
The only real negatives of the first half for the Chippewas was a missed extra point and fumble on the Northern Illinois 29.
CMU took a 23-3 lead into the half with things looking like smooth sailing.
NIU opened the second half with a little trickery. A converted onside-kick gave the Huskies the ball on their own 46-yard line to start the half, which led to a field goal.
The Chippewas did not look phased at all. They took the following drive all the way to the end zone for LeFevour's second rushing touchdown of the night. This was a drive that included a gutsy 4th-and-1 attempt.
Everything still seemed to be on Central Michigan's side.
Then, it all stopped. With the score 30-6, Northern Illinois decided to start pulling out all the stops.
The following drive, which also included a successful fourth and one attempt, led the Huskies to a rushing touchdown by Chandler Harnish, followed by a two-point conversion.
And then, once again the Huskies tried an onside-kick. Again it was successful.
The Huskies quickly moved the ball down field and scored on a Chad Spann rushing touchdown. Once again, the Huskies attempted a two point conversion. It was unsuccessful this time.
Tough run defense and penalties forced CMU into a four and out.
Northern Illinois wasted no time after the punt in moving the ball back into the Chippewa's red zone with passes of 39 and 23 on consecutive plays. From there, Spann rushed for his second touchdown of the game. With the extra point, the lead was cut 30-27.
With the Chippewas ensuing possession, there was a steady dose of running. And after five minutes and some change, the punt team was back out on the field.
Now with only 2:31 left on the clock, the Huskies needed to travel down the field and at least kick a field goal to tie. And that is just what they did.
On a drive that included an amazing fourth and 18 conversion, the Huskies' kicker Matt Salerno buried a 25-yard field goal with only 19 seconds left on the clock.
I told you that Central Michigan likes to keep their fans on the edge of their seats. For those fans who left at halftime, they missed an exciting overtime finish.
The Huskies began overtime with the first possession. And almost as fast as they started, they gave the ball right back to Central Michigan on an interception by Josh Gordy.
The Chippewas were not so giving with their possession. Running the ball three times to set up a 40-yard attempt for Andrew Aguila, who had previously missed an extra point.
He calmly drained the kick right down the middle of the uprights.
Central Michigan remained unbeaten in MAC play with a record of 6-0 and 8-2 overall.
Northern Illinois falls to 4-3 in the MAC and 5-5 overall.
Final score: Central Michigan 33, Northern Illinois 30
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