- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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After blowing out to a 13-0 lead, Arkansas State couldn’t find a rhythm on offense with wide receiver Dwayne Frampton missing the bulk of the game with an injury. NIU, however, lost star quarterback Chandler Harnish briefly, but was able to still find the end zone and Harnish would return. Here’s how it all went down in Mobile, Ala.
How the game was won: Five Arkansas State turnovers doomed the Red Wolves, who couldn’t find a way to consistently generate any offensive production after the first quarter. NIU’s defense did a great job disrupting ASU quarterback Ryan Aplin, who threw three interceptions and couldn’t get in sync with his offense without Frampton.
Turning point: NIU running back Jamal Womble, all 5-11, 247-pounds of him, barreled into the end zone as time expired in the first half to give the Huskies a 21-13 lead at the break. And it came on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Gutsy call after Arkansas State gave the ball to the Huskies on a muffed punt, then a roughing the punter call kept the drive alive to set up the score.
Star of the game: Spectacular night for NIU wide receiver Martel Moore, who caught eight balls for 225 yards – a whopping 28.1 yards per catch average – and a touchdown.
Play of the game: Taylor Stockemer’s leaping, one-handed 16-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-four was just fantastic. Aplin heaved up it up with 11:12 left in the game, which cut NIU’s lead to 31-20. It made the fourth quarter a little more interesting, at least until Dechane Durante’s 36-yard pick-six with 8:20 left in the game to put NIU ahead 38-20.
Unsung hero: How about NIU backup quarterback Jordan Lynch filling in on the spot for Harnish in the second quarter? The backup QB goes 4-for-4 and engineers a seven-play, 78-yard touchdown drive that ended with him finding the end zone on an athletic 3-yard run. The score kept NIU's momentum going in Harnish's absence and put the Huskies ahead 14-13.
Stat of the game: 24 points off of five turnovers for the Huskies.
Record performance: For the 19 NIU seniors, it's their 35th win -- the most of any class in school history. The 11 wins this season matches the school record of 11 wins set last season.
11hSam Khan Jr.
14hDavid M. Hale
16hDavid M. Hale