DeKALB – His teammates scored 108 points in the two games he stood on the sideline. It would’ve been natural if they forgot about Martel Moore.
“Bad,” Moore said when asked how much he yearned to get back onto the field Tuesday against Ball State. “But, as you seen the past two weeks, we’ve got a lot of wide receivers.”
No matter, Moore, arguably the most talented Northern Illinois wideout, wasted no time inserting himself into the Huskies loaded rotation.
By halftime, the junior had three catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. He finished NIU’s win against Ball State with six receptions for 120 yards – both career highs – and made some highlight plays.
“I know he was thirsty and hungry to play tonight,” NIU coach Dave Doeren said. “You want to have your playmakers out there.”
Despite NIU’s explosiveness at Toledo and Bowling Green, Moore reminded everyone Tuesday he is one of the Huskies top playmakers.
With Moore on the field, NIU suddenly had a viable and consistent deep threat. Two of his catches were from at least 40 yards. Senior Nathan Palmer was the only other receiver to catch a pass more than 20 yards.
Moore is just 6-foot-2, 182 pounds, not the ideal size to be a consistent jump-ball winner down the field.
But none of the Huskies play the football when it’s in the air quite like him. Moore said it’s about attitude.
“Chandler throw it, I’ve got to catch it,” Moore said of NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish. “It’s just that simple. If it’s in the air, it’s my ball.”
Lost in Harnish’s brilliance Tuesday night was Moore’s resurgence. A hamstring injury had confined him to the sideline since NIU’s game Oct. 22 at Buffalo.
Apparently, the hamstring now is just fine.
After Tuesday’s game, Moore credited Palmer and senior receiver Willie Clark for stepping up in his absence. At Toledo, Palmer had three touchdowns and more than 100 yards. The next week, Clark caught two touchdowns and surpassed 100 yards.
“They’ve been waiting to do that all year,” Moore said. “They can do that any time and at any moment.”
So can Moore.
“He’s awesome, plain and simple,” Harnish said. “He made two great catches, he made a move on the touchdown score. You know, we’ve got great receivers, but ‘Tel is one of those next-level guys that does a lot of special things. We’re very fortunate to have him.”