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>>caption: †NIU KICKER MATTHEW SIMS
HUGS HIS HOLDER RYAN NEIR TO CELEBRATE
THE GAME-WINNING FIELD GOAL<<
@ FORD FIELD:
† † Northern Illinois was upset by Miami-
of-Ohio with just over half a minute to
play in last year's MAC title game. This
time the Huskies scored 23 unanswered
2nd-H points and got a 33-yard Matthew
Sims field goal as time expired to edge
Ohio U, 23-20 Friday night.
† † In the first of six conference championship
games this weekend, the Ohio Bobcats raced
to a 20-0 halftime lead, before NIU ended a 28 year wait to win the MAC Football
Championship Game. (Northern Illinois also lost the 2005 MAC C-ship at Ford Field
in the final minute to Akron.) †
† † It started innocently enough when Matt Weller kicked a 30-yard field goal
4:27 into the contest. Sr-QB Phil Bates then finished off an 8-play/70-yard drive
with his 24-yard touchdown pass to Donte Foster to give Ohio a 10-0 lead with
4:05 left in the 1st-Qtr. It was Bates' only pass of the night.
† † Weller's second FG of 21-yards came 3:57 into the 2nd-Qtr. The Bobcats
then marched 87-yards in 9-plays and So-QB Tyler Tettleton had an 18-yard TD run
2:35 before the half for the 20-0 Ohio bulge.
† † NIU's defense stiffened in the 2nd-H and the offense finally sustained
some drives. Northern Illinois also got some Ohio help when a personal foul
penalty and a 12-yard punt helped set up NIU's second and third touchdowns.
† †Ohio DL Corey Hasting was ejected for allegedly throwing a punch during a fumble
pileup in the 3rd-Qtr.
† † The Huskies went 78-yards in 10-plays with Chandler Harnish passing
39-yards to Nathan Palmer to make it 20-7 with 6:19 to go in the 3rd-Qtr.
NIU then had a quick-strike midway through the 4th-Qtr and took just 4-plays
to go 63-yards culminated by a Harnish TD toss of 32-yards to Martel Moore.
However, the extra point was missed, so the score stood at 20-13 with 7:36
remaining in regulation. Palmer went to Harnish again, this time on a 22-yard
touchdown pass aided by broken coverage with 2:52 to go. The PAT was good
and the game was tied 20-20 via a 57-yard/6-play drive.
† † Ohio's last chance saw Tettleton fumble on first down (recovered by Harden)
and then throw two incomplete passes. The 3-&-out and a 35-yard punt gave NIU
the ball at its own 36. Two complete passes and two carries later Northern Illinois
had reached the Ohio 19.
† † The Bobcats called back-to-back timeouts in an attempt to "freeze" placekicker
Sims, who's shanked a PAT wide right earlier. Sims responded to the pressure and
from a straight-on position he curved his 33-yard GW-FG just inside the left upright
as the clock ticked down to three zeroes.
† † Harnish was 16-of-26 for 250-yards, three TDs and one interception for NIU. Ohio's
Tettleton was 18-of-31 for 218-yards, no scores and 3-INTs.
† † Palmer had four NIU receptions, two for touchdowns, for 115-yards. Ohio U's LaVon
Brazill caught eight balls for 124-yards.
† † NIU is now 10-3 and Ohio 9-4 with both teams awaiting Bowl Selection Sunday.
NIU QB CHANDLER HARNISH: † "I said yesterday that this is where the senior class
was going to leave its legacy, but I was terrible in the first half. I didnít want to
go out like that...What happened last year? Iím not thinking about that anymore.
The only history that matters now is what we made today."
NIU PK MATTHEW SIMS: † "I knew I wasnít going to let my team down twice. I just lost
my focus on the extra point, but I was ready for that field goal."
OHIO H-COACH FRANK SOLICH: † "We had plenty of chances, we just didnít do enough
with them in the second half. All three phases of the game had some kind of collapse in
the second half. We didnít do anything as well as we needed to do."
† † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † †###
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