Northwestern lost 23-15 to Northern Illinois on Saturday to fall to 0-2 on the season.
After an ugly, scoreless first half, Northern Illinois got on the board first with a 32-yard field goal. The Huskies nearly added a touchdown on their next possession on a deep ball to wide receiver Tommylee Lewis, but corner Mathew Harris made a hell of a play from behind:
The deflection by Harris was the turning point for the Cats. Later on the drive NU completed the stop on an 11-yard sack. Instead of going down 10-0, the Cats snatched the momentum away from NIU.
On their next offensive possession, the Cats capped off a four-play, 60-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown to Kyle Prater (his first ever score) to take a 7-3 lead with five minutes left in the third quarter.
But it didn't take long for the momentum to swing back in NIU's favor. QB Drew Hare led the Huskies on a 13-play, 82-yard drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Hare to Da'Ron Brown. After three quarters of play NIU led 10-7.
Facing a fourth and six on NIU's 29-yard line, the Cats elected not to kick a 46-yard field goal for the tie. So on fourth down Siemian failed to find an open receiver, tucked and ran and was tackled well short of the down marker. The decision to go for it on fourth speaks volumes about the coaching staff's lack of confidence in Jack Mitchell.
After that it was all Northern Illinois, which scored 13 unanswered points. Zach Oliver replaced Siemian, who went down with a knee injury late in the fourth.
Oliver completed a deep touchdown to Pierre Youngblood-Ary to make the final score 23-15.
What went right: Not much. NU's defense played really well in the first half. They held an NIU offense that averaged 5.8 yards per play in week one to just 4.4 yards per play for the first 30 minutes. But the defense was on the field a ton and got winded. NIU ran the ball 55 times for 221 yards. With Tony Jones out with an injury, Prater had a big day. He hadseven catches for 87 yards and the TD. Justin Jackson again had a solid day. He had a team-high 12 carries for 52 yards and 2 receptions for 19 yards.
What went wrong: A lot. The Cats committed nine penalties for 93 yards (they had none last week) and had way too many drops. They came out sluggish in the first half and failed to get going offensively. On defense, the NU corners were again spotty. Both VanHoose and Harris made errors in coverage that led to touchdowns. When he had protection Siemian found open receivers and the Cats moved the ball up the field. But most of the time, when they weren’t holding, the o-line failed to give Siemian enough time. Siemian finished with a decent stat-line of 27/41 for 268 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. But, overall, other than a stretch in the third quarter, Northwestern's performance was simply disappointing.