DeKALB – Tommy Davis thought he was going to get tackled. So did almost everyone else in Huskie Stadium.
But somehow, the Northern Illinois redshirt freshman kick returner avoided the grasp of a group of Eastern Michigan tacklers and returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown, setting the tone for NIU's 50-6 victory against the Eagles on Thursday night.
Davis aptly called the scrum he ran into "cloudy" but found a way to bust loose for the touchdown.
"For a second I thought I was going to go down," Davis said. "But the guy didn't wrap up, I was able to break free, get my legs moving and saw the open field."
Davis' return was the first NIU kickoff returned for touchdown since Aug. 29, 2002, when Michael Turner scored on a 93-yard return against Wake Forest.
"Tommy Davis made a tremendous, tremendous effort run," NIU coach Jerry Kill said.
Harnish update: After the game, Kill said that quarterback Chandler Harnish is expected to practice on Sunday but has not been released by the team's medical staff.
Seeing the field: Sophomore defensive back and Kaneland graduate Boone Thorgesen saw his first collegiate action in the fourth quarter. Sophomore defensive back Donald Smith saw his first collegiate action and recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter. Also, Garrett Barnas had his first career interception and it was the first interception for the Huskies since the Toledo game.
Healthy to play: Left guard Jason Onyebuagu did not participate in practice Monday or this past Tuesday because of an ankle injury, but was healthy enough to play Thursday and help pave the way for 418 rushing yards for the Huskies.
Life goes on: Jarrett Payton, son of former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, was honored after the first quarter for his work with Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's office for increasing awareness and registration for the organ and tissue donor program, Life Goes On. There were registration tables throughout Huskie Stadium to encourage people to sign up to become a donor.
By the numbers: NIU is 24-14-2 all-time against Eastern Michigan and have won 10 of the past 12 meetings. ... The Huskies are one win away from matching the number of conference wins they had last season, when they finished 5-3 in the Mid-American Conference West. ... NIU's victory was its 500th in program history. The Huskies are 500-454-51. ... Spann is now eighth all time in school history in rushing touchdowns with 23.