Huskies dominated by Rockets in Homecoming battle – Northern Star

NIU offense struggles with four interceptions

Sean Rose

Sophomore quarterback Justin Lynch runs for a 15-yard touchdown in the 115th return game against the University of Toledo Rockets Oct. 8 at Huskie Stadium. Lynch ran into the end zone for the deciding score in NIU’s conference game with Western Michigan University on Wednesday. (Sean Reed | North Star)

FromKALB – The Huskies (1-5, 0-2 MAC) made it interesting in the fourth quarter, but ultimately fell short of the University of Toledo Rockets (4-2, 2-0 MAC) in Game 115 football back.

Sophomore cornerback Quinyon Mitchell had four interceptions and returned two for touchdowns to tie a Toledo school record for most interceptions in a game.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Ethan Hampton finished the game with 30 completions, 284 yards and two touchdowns. Hampton also finished the game with four interceptions.

“Not good enough, I mean, you can’t throw four picks and expect to win the game,” head coach Thomas Hammock said of Hampton’s performance. “He (Hampton) needs to watch the movie and be able to assess it.”

Sophomore running back Antario Brown was NIU’s leading running back for the game, rushing for 84 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. Sophomore running back Harrison Waylee was NIU’s leading receiver in the game as he had 96 receiving yards on 10 receptions.

The Huskie defense gave up 38 points in the game.

“It’s very simple on the defensive side of the ball. That’s the basics, do your job and get the ball rolling,” second linebacker Daveren Rayner said. “I feel like it’s something we need to improve.”

The game started with Toledo’s sophomore quarterback Dequan Finn completing a four-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Jerjuan Newton on their first practice.

During the Huskies’ opening practice, Hampton threw his first interception to Mitchell on the second play of the Huskies’ first possession. He was sent off for a touchdown in Toledo.

Sophomore quarterback Justin Lynch rushed for a 15-yard touchdown that put NIU on the board and made it 14-7.

Finn and Newton connected for their second touchdown of the first quarter, which extended Toledo’s lead to 21-7.

Toledo capitalized on a fourth down, crushing the passer penalty that kept their drive alive. The Rockets scored on a one-yard touchdown run by second-year running back Jacquez Stuart.

Hampton then threw their second pick six of the game, which extended Toledo’s lead to 35-7.

To end the first half, Hampton was again intercepted by Mitchell in the Toledo end zone.

Hampton struggled in the first half, throwing three interceptions and passing for just 99 yards. The running game was able to earn NIU’s only touchdown of the first half, gaining 85 yards and a touchdown. The Huskies also struggled with penalties in the first half when they had four for 56 yards.

The Huskies’ second-half opener resulted in another Mitchell interception. Junior kicker Thomas Cluckey threw a field goal 33 yards after Mitchell’s interception.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Tucker Gleason connected with senior tight end Jamal Turner for a 15-yard score that extended Toledo’s lead to 45-7. The touchdown pass was the first of Gleason’s college career.

Brown opened the fourth quarter with a five-yard touchdown run to give NIU its first touchdown since the first quarter. The Huskies went for a two-point attempt and converted on a catch from senior redshirt tight end Liam Soraghan.

After the touchdown, the Huskies attempted an onside kick and succeeded. The kick was recovered by sophomore safety Nate Valcarcel.

NIU attempted another onside kick and again recovered, this time by redshirt senior defensive end Michael Kennedy.

The Huskies scored on a five-yard touchdown pass from Hampton to redshirt second-year receiver Messiah Travis.

Hampton threw a touchdown pass to second-year tight end Drew Cassens in the final minute of the game. The Huskies attempted a two-point conversion and succeeded after Waylee rushed into the end zone

“Certainly not the way we wanted to play or how we wanted to play, and that’s squarely on me,” Hammock said. “We have to find a way to get up and play.”

NIU’s next game is against the Eastern Michigan University Eagles at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The game will be available to watch on ESPN+. Live stats can be found in Handgun Stats.