AKRON, Ohio. – Domination. Pure domination.
That's the only way to describe the Northern Illinois offense Saturday night at InfoCision Stadium in Akron. The Huskies gained 520 yards of total offense 50-14 win over the Zips in the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams.
“We needed that as an offense. Everybody contributed today,” said wide receiver Nathan Palmer, who had three receptions for 65 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Chandler Harnish. “I think we're really starting to gel. I can't wait to see what happens the rest of the season.”
NIU (3-2, 1-0 MAC) scored on its first eight offensive possessions. The Huskies didn't punt the ball until 6:38 remained in the fourth quarter, with most of the second stringers in the game.
Harnish was excellent all night. The junior was 16-for-20 passing for 281 yards and tied his career high with three touchdown passes, the one to Palmer and two to Willie Clark.
“I think right now Chandler's playing as good of football as he's played,” Kill said. “Certainly the last three football games. He's really done a great job. He's getting better every week which is encouraging."
Kill said NIU planned to throw the ball more on Saturday, thinking the Zips (0-5, 0-1 MAC) would overcompensate for Chad Spann, who ran for 223 yards in last week's 34-23 win at Minnesota.
“After Chad Spann getting (223) yards everybody in the stands figured he's going to get it again,” Kill said. “You try to go away from your tendencies and take what they give you. With that type of balance, you can't take away the run all the time.”
The defense was no slouch either, holding Akron to 257 total yards. Seven of the Zips' points came courtesy of a Tommy Davis fumble on a punt return late in the first quarter that allowed Akron to take over at the NIU 11-yard line. Akron's Alex Allen got the Zips on the board with a one-yard touchdown run four plays later.
But the defense got everything they could have wanted watching the offense earn score after score.
“It's great. As a defense that's the main thing we want to see,” said linebacker Devon Butler, who intercepted a Patrick Nicely pass and took it 26 yards for a touchdown, the first of his career. “We want to be on the field less. I think I'm still 100 percent right now. I've still got a lot of energy, I'm not worn out. I think that's good for next week (at home against Temple).”