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No letdown, Northern Illinois just outplayed
By John Lemon | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/26/2009 11:36 PM | Updated: 9/26/2009 11:36 PM

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For anyone who thought Northern Illinois suffered a letdown in a 34-31 loss to Idaho on Saturday a week after upsetting Purdue, Jerry Kill has a word - or seven - for you.

"No, no, no, no, no, no, no," Kill said. "Just like I talked to my kids, we put that game behind us Sunday. We practiced hard. You had two good football teams going at it and they out-executed us."

Idaho marched up and down Brigham Field in front of 16,320, handing the Huskies quite a buzzkill. The Vandals (3-1) converted 8 of 13 third-down conversions to keep the Huskies' offense off the field, a week after NIU controlled the ball for 40 minutes.

"We didn't tackle very well," Kill said. "They blocked better. Physically, they took it to us a little."

Northern Illinois (2-2) appeared to catch a break at the end of the first half. The officials twice added time to the clock at .9 and then .2 seconds, allowing the Huskies a chance to spike the ball and bring on Mike Salerno for a 50-yard field goal, cutting Idaho's lead to 21-13.

Idaho coach Robb Akey argued with officials - which included the only female at the FBS level, Sarah Tomas - before walking off the field. His offense made it a moot point, taking the opening drive of the second half 76 yards for another touchdown to build a 28-13 lead.

"All I know is the clock said zero twice," Akey said. "But I've got no problem with that call. It might have sparked our guys (in the second half)."

After missing a 52-yard field goal on their first drive, the Vandals scored on their next six. Idaho outgained Northern 477-312, led by Nathan Enderle's 18-of-23 passing. After Jordan Delegal's blocked punt set up a 1-yard Me'co Brown touchdown and made it 34-31 with 5:51 remaining, the Vandals proceeded to run out the clock, converting one third down when Eric Greenwood made a diving catch for a 26-yard gain.

"We need to be ready to play every quarter, not just the third and fourth quarter," said Huskies linebacker Alex Kube, who tied Pat Schiller and Cory Hanson for the team lead with 11 tackles.

Willie Clark (Lake Park) wrestled control on a 7-yard touchdown reception, the first of his career. Chandler Harnish threw for 184 yards and ran for 62.

Northern will try to bounce back next week when it opens MAC play by hosting Western Michigan.

"All the goals we want to have are still in front of us," Kill said. "I'm kind of excited to see what kind of team we have. See if we have got men or we still have some little boys who we have to get coached up."