Broncos Nearly Top 500 Yards of Offense in Loss to NIU
Quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another, and went 32 of 51 passing for a career-high 333 yards. Receiver Eric Monette recorded his first career 100-yard receiving game with eight grabs for 142 yards and a career-high two touchdowns, while running back Dareyon Chance recorded 97 yards rushing and a touchdown. Justin Collins contributed a touchdown to the cause, catching two balls for 28 yards and a score.
The Broncos were in control in the first half of play, recording 250 yards of offense, converting eight of 12 third down chances, and scoring in both trips into the red zone. After the Huskies scored a touchdown on their first offensive drive of the game, WMU held them to 114 total offensive yards and took the lead in the game heading into the halftime break.
Northern Illinois took control in the third quarter, though, scoring 14 unanswered points in building a double-digit lead. The turning point of the game came when a tipped Van Tubbergen pass was intercepted by the Huskies' Jamaal Bass at the NIU 36 and returned for the Western Michigan 20-yard line. On the very next play, NIU's Jordan Lynch rushed 20 yards into the end zone to make it 31-21 with 4:44 remaining in the third.
The Huskies tacked on another score at the beginning of the fourth quarter, when Lynch completed a pass to Tommylee Lewis from three yards out, and the Huskies would add 10 more insurances points in the final period to close it out. Van Tubbergen would author one more touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, starting on his own 22-yard line and maneuvering the ball into Huskies territory.
After Collins hauled in a pass to put the ball at midfield, Van Tubbergen pulled the ball down on a broken play and rushed for 15 yards and a first down on a 2nd and 3. Now on the NIU 17, Van Tubbergen connected with Collins for the second time on the drive, reaching the end zone for the second time this season to make it 48-34 with 2:37 remaining.
Chance gave the Broncos the halftime lead with 1:32 remaining in the second quarter when he capped a 14-play, 88-yard drive. The Broncos started the drive on their own 12-yard line, but quickly moved to midfield and put themselves in a position to strike. Van Tubbergen hit Josh Schaffer on a 13-yard route to give the Broncos a first down at the NIU 38, and Chance would take the Broncos to the NIU 23 three plays later with a 10-run up the gut on a draw hand off.
Van Tubbergen would look for Schaffer in the end zone on the next play, but a pass interference call on NIU's Marlon Moore would give the Broncos a 1st and Goal at the NIU 8. Van Tubbergen pitched the ball left to Chance two plays later, and the junior running back scampered past defenders and into the end zone for his third touchdown of the season. Andrew Haldeman kicked the extra point, and the Broncos held a 21-14 lead with 1:32 remaining in the first half. The Huskies would record a 54-yard field goal as time expired in the half to cut the lead to 21-17.
Van Tubbergen would lead the Broncos to a score on their first drive of the game, tying the game with 8:28 remaining in the first quarter. Van Tubbergen mixed the ball around to three different receivers, starting things with a 13-yard screen pass to Antoin Scriven. Van Tubbergen would connect with Eric Monette twice on the drive, including a 27-yard lob pass over a safety that Monette dove for and caught in the end zone for his second career touchdwon reception. Haldeman's kick would tie the score at 7-7.
The Broncos would add on to their lead on their next drive, with Van Tubbergen continuing his precision passing and Chance providing a spark from the backfield. With WMU starting the drive from their own 10-yard line, Chance gave the Broncos a first down when he rushed to the WMU 23 on a 3rd and 1. Van Tubbergen took control from there, throwing on seven of the next eight plays, including an 18-yard completion to Brian Fields on 3rd and 1 that put the Broncos on the NIU 27.
Chance, who finished with 30 yards rushing on the drive, went for eight yards on the next play to put the Broncos on the NIU 19, and converted yet another third down when he rushed 13 yards over right tackle to the NIU 6. Van Tubbergen capped the scoring drive with an underneath pass to Monette, who slipped under a defender and dove for the goal line to complete the 14-play, 90-yard drive.
Western Michigan travels to Mount Pleasant next Saturday for the annual "Battle for the Cannon" against rival Central Michigan. The game, which will stream live on ESPN3, kicks off at 1 p.m.