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updated: 11/9/2010 11:45 PM

NIU gets to enjoy big dose of payback

Huskies roll to easy victory over rival Toledo in MAC showdown

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  • Northern Illinois linebacker Jordan Delegal celebrates after the Huskies' big victory Tuesday night in DeKalb.

    Northern Illinois linebacker Jordan Delegal celebrates after the Huskies' big victory Tuesday night in DeKalb.
    Photo Courtesy of Mike Greene/Northern Star


DEKALB -- Three years ago, in the final month of Joe Novak's final season, a bunch of impressionable Northern Illinois freshmen went to Toledo and suffered a 70-21 beating.

The Rockets set a Mid-American Conference record with 821 total yards as they showed little mercy on the short-handed Huskies.

"I played 123 snaps, not including special teams," said NIU linebacker Alex Kube, the Cary-Grove product who played safety that grueling afternoon. "When you lose like that, if you're a competitor, you're never going to forget something like that.

"It was a bad game and that's part of the reason we can be honest and say we don't like them. We don't like that team and that's why, every year, it's a huge game."

Fast-forward to Tuesday night, when Northern Illinois got its revenge on Senior Night and embellished its terrific season in front of a national ESPN2 audience.

The Huskies didn't quite match those 70 points from 2007, but they scored touchdowns on four of their first five drives and rolled to a 65-30 triumph before 18,472 at Huskie Stadium in a battle of MAC West unbeatens.

The Huskies (8-2, 6-0) need to win one of their last two games road trips to Ball State and Eastern Michigan to clinch the MAC West's berth in the league title game Dec. 3 in Detroit.

"The great thing about it is I didn't have to do a whole lot of motivating for this game," NIU coach Jerry Kill said. "I needed to keep people grounded and focused on what we needed to do to win the game."

The Huskies kept Toledo (6-4, 5-1) off balance all night by mixing tailback Chad Spann's slashes with quarterback Chandler Harnish's keepers, draws and bombs.

And when the Rockets thought they had honed in on NIU's offensive leaders, the Huskies sent 5-foot-7 freshman wideout Akeem Daniels on fly sweeps around the end.

Spann, one of six seniors who played in that Toledo shellacking in 2007, rushed for 70 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Harnish added 149 rushing yards, 162 passing yards and 2 touchdowns.

Daniels touched the ball twice and scored on runs of 12 and 50 yards.

The Huskies stacked up 584 total yards, didn't turn over the ball and weren't forced to punt until four minutes remained.

"I thought they came out very aggressive and took us totally out of our game," said second-year Toledo coach Tim Beckman. "We didn't tackle well, we didn't fit properly on a lot of the run schemes that they were running."

NIU owned a 28-0 lead at halftime, but that merely set the stage for a wild third quarter that featured 7 touchdowns in a 10-minute, 14-second stretch.

Tommy Davis capped the 61-point quarter with an 83-yard score on a return in which Toledo's final potential tackler was double-teamed several yards out of bounds.

It capped almost the perfect night for NIU's 21 seniors and their mates.

"I'm speechless right now," said senior defensive end Jake Coffman. "Just a great team effort."