The drought was sure to end eventually. It was simple logic. NIU's offense is just too experienced, too talented and too determined to be kept out of the end zone.
The Huskies finally scored their first live-contact touchdown this spring when senior running back Jasmin Hopkins scampered down the right sideline for almost 50 yards, breaking several tackles along the way. NIU's defensive coaches ran onto the field, yelling at the players who'd missed tackles. Offensive coaches gave one of their loudest cheers of the day.
"It was real good to see them get into the end zone," NIU coach Dave Doeren said. "Saturday we'll really see because we'll crank it up and let it go for a while. But the defense is bending and finishing drives. The offense is moving it and not finishing. It will come together for both of them.
"That's what it's all about though, is the competition. You want to see it."
Hopkins' run came with the second-team offense on the field going against the Huskies' second-team defense. The first-team offense still hasn't crossed the goal line.
That didn't take away from the moment.
"That was just a great run by Jas," NIU junior safety Tommy Davis said. "I really don't want to take anything away from him, because we had guys – it was poor tackling by us – but we had guys that were there. He was just determined to get into the end zone, and he did it.
"You want to see plays like that. You love seeing plays like that. You don't necessarily like to see it going against your defense. ... But it's just a comfort knowing that your offense can go down and score."
At one point during the run, Hopkins looked like he was dangerously close to the sideline. I thought he may have stepped out of bounds. Davis – who had a better view than me – confirmed it was a touchdown.
"I was standing right there on the sideline, I was looking right at him, and he didn't step out," Davis said. "He did a good job staying in bounds."
Davis said he's aware his first-team defense still hasn't allowed NIU's first-team offense to score a touchdown. It's something of a badge of honor, given the talent on the Huskies' starting offense.
"When you go into the locker room, you let them know that they didn't get in," Davis said.
–Ryan Wood, firstname.lastname@example.org