DeKALB — The NIU football team ended the 2022 season with a 44-12 loss to Akron, the third straight loss for the Huskies and the first win for the Zips against an FBS school this year.
Akron (1-10, 0-7) lost 10 straight coming into the game but rolled after giving up the first six points of the game to the Huskies (3-9, 2-6). The Zips only other win this year was 30-23 in overtime against FCS St. Francis (Penn.).
Here are four takeaways from the loss:
Putting things away
Akron entered the second half up 20-6 and with the ball, but the teams traded scoreless possessions, including a three-and-out for the Huskies — the fifth in the last six drives to that point, and the one that wasn’t a three-and-out was a two-play drive that ended with an interception.
Facing a second-and-10, Akron quarterback Jeff Undercuffler underthrew a pass but Alex Adams made a play on it, caught it and went 61 yards for a score and a 27-6 lead.
Tucker reaches 2,000 yards
Even though he hadn’t played in a couple weeks, DeKalb graduate and wide receiver Cole Tucker entered his senior day game 3 yards shy of 2,000 for his career.
He only saw limited action, but late in the first quarter he hit his milestone. Freshman quarterback Nevan Cremascoli found the senior. The pass was initially called 2 yards, but almost immediately bumped up to three.
The play was short of a first down on third-and-7, but the Huskies went for the fourth down conversion and were successful, leading to a field goal and a 6-0 lead. It capped a 12-play, 33-yard drive that ate 5:33 off the clock.
Tucker finished with four catches for 33 yards and finished his career with 2,020 receiving yards.
Gandy with an interception
With NIU up 3-0, Akron took over looking to get on the board after their first drive netted no points. Jashon Prophete tipped a pass, then DeKalb grad and senior Jordan Gandy dove and came up with the interception.
Like Tucker, he was celebrating senior day in his hometown. It was the second interception of his career at NIU — he transferred before the 2020 season from South Dakota State — and first since Nov. 11, 2020 against Central Michigan.
Cremascoli pick part of bad second quarter for NIU
After the Huskies started the game with a couple drives that netted some yards and six points, the offense started to dry out and Akron took full advantage.
The Huskie offense managed just 7 yards in the second quarter, and Akron put together two scoring drives. NIU was trailing 10-6 when Cremascoli was hoping to lead a scoring drive, but instead threw an interception.
The Zips needed just five plays and 2:19 to go 35 yards to score and push the lead to 17-6. The Huskies went three and out on their next possession. The Zips outgained the Huskies 220-7 in the second quarter.
Cremascoli also threw a pick-six in the fourth quarter.