DeKALB – Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill talked about starting fast, and his team responded on its way to a 50-6 victory against Eastern Michigan on Thursday night at Huskie Stadium.
Tommy Davis returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown. He appeared to be tackled by at least three Eastern Michigan players before he bounced outside for the touchdown. Mike Salerno's extra point was blocked by Brandon Slater to make it 6-0 NIU just 14 seconds into the game.
On the ensuing drive, NIU (6-3, 4-1 MAC West) forced a punt but after the punt landed, it bounced off John Kremer and the Eagles (0-9, 0-5 MAC West) recovered on the NIU 28. Joe Carithers converted a 21-yard field goal attempt to make it 6-3 in favor of NIU.
Eastern Michigan forced the Huskies to punt on the next drive, but committed a personal foul on punter Mike Salerno, giving the Huskies a first down. Quarterback DeMarcus Grady, making his third straight start for the injured Chandler Harnish, hit a wide-open Landon Cox for a 30-yard touchdown. Salerno made the extra point this time, giving the Huskies a 13-3 lead.
The Eagles drove deep into NIU territory but couldn't get in the end zone. Carithers hit a 20-yard field goal to make it 13-6 NIU.
Chad Spann's first carry of the game came on the next drive, and he took the ball 65 yards untouched for a touchdown. Salerno's extra point made it 20-6 NIU.
In the second quarter, Grady started the quarter with a 61-yard run. Later in the drive, NIU made it into the red zone but couldn't punch it in. Salerno connected on a 26-yard field goal to make it 23-6 in favor of the Huskies.
After a missed field goal by Carithers, Spann ran 79 yards untouched for touchdown. Mike Salerno's extra point gave the Huskies a 30-6 lead.
Eastern Michigan punted the ball back to NIU and Grady found Landon Cox for a 31-yard touchdown pass to close out the scoring for the half for the Huskies.
With bowl-eligibility attained, NIU will look to secure its seventh victory in a season where it appears so far that seven victories will be necessary for non-BCS teams to receive a bowl bid. The Huskies' first chance to do that will come next Thursday against Ball State at 5 p.m. at Huskie Stadium.