Black Defeats Cardinal in 2016 Huskie Bowl

Sports

The Northern Illinois University football team wrapped up its 2016 spring practices Saturday at Huskie Stadium with the Black Team claiming a 27-7 victory over the Cardinal Team in Huskie Bowl IV. 

The Black Team, coached by NIU offensive line coach Joe Tripodi, who improved his record as a head coach in the Huskie Bowl to 3-0, spotted the Cardinal a seven-point lead when running back Tommy Mister (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita HS), who sat out last season at NIU after transferring from Indiana, scored from four yards out. 

With each team granted nine possessions in the game, which did not feature any punting or special teams except for field goal and PAT attempts, the Black offense got going when quarterback Anthony Maddie (Plainfield, Ill./Aurora Christian HS) hit Ezra Saffold (West Palm Beach, Fla./W.T. Dwyer HS) across the middle and the speedster from Florida took it all the way to the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown.

Black also recorded touchdowns on two-yard runs by Dwayne Milton (Machesney Park, Ill./Harlem HS), who carried the ball nine times for 40 yards to lead all rushers in the game, and Maddie.  Redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Santacaterina (Geneva, Ill./Geneva HS) hit tight end Ryan Stendler (Mequon, Wis./Homestead HS) for a nine-yard touchdown to round out the scoring. 

NIU Head Coach Rod Carey said he was pleased with the Huskie Bowl, and with what the Huskies accomplished during its 15 spring practices.

“Overall it was good,” Carey said. “I thought the guys got better. We improved, we worked on the fundamentals, went back to basics. I wanted to get better at the fundamentals and that has happened. I think we’re better right now with the fundamentals than we were a year ago at this time. We’re not a finished product. We’re not done yet. We’ve got a long ways to go, but I like the energy this team has right now.” 

With new offensive and defensive coordinators in Mike Uremovich and Kevin Kane, respectively, and three other new assistant coaches on staff this spring, Carey said he saw the staff come together, and the players and coaches develop relationships.

“I think the staff gelled really well together, and the transition was good, team-wise and really good, player-coach wise,” he said. “The transition was really smooth with the coordinators, they know our systems and they’re comfortable in them.  hey brought wrinkles, and they’ll continue to do that because they have to be themselves. Every offseason you’re tweaking and changing things to get better and improve, that is no different this year.”

With starting quarterback Drew Hare (O’Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt West HS), running back Joel Bouagnon (Aurora, Ill./Aurora Christian HS) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita HS) sitting out the Huskie Bowl, and limited series for several other starters, including All-American cornerback Shawun Lurry (West Palm Beach, Fla./W.T. Dwyer HS), the Huskie Bowl provided an opportunity for young players, especially on defense, to step up.

Safety Taylor Mashack (East Palo Alto, Calif./Menlo Atherton HS) and cornerback Cassius Grady (Arlington, Texas./Arlington HS) were two who did as they intercepted passes in the game, while Cardinal middle linebacker Kyle Pugh (Chicago Heights, Ill./Bloom Township HS)  had two ooh and aah-inducing tackles for loss.  Saffold led all receivers with five catches for 59 yards in the game, while Stendler’s day included three catches for 30 yards. Tight end Daniel Crawford (Macomb, Mich./Dakota HS) led the Cardinal receivers with two catches for 26 yards.   

Carey mentioned Christian Blake (three catches for 18 yards) and safety Mycial Allen (Detroit, Mich./King HS) first when asked about players who he saw step up this spring.

“Christian Blake (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons HS) had a really, really nice spring at wide receiver and I thought Mycial Allen had a good spring on defense as well,” Carey said. “There are probably a bunch more – Jamaal Payton, Sean Folliard. On the defensive line, Herlandez Corley came along at the end, and William Lee’s second half of spring was really good.  I was really happy with [center] Luke Shively inside. He’s got to keep coming, but I think Luke’s in front of that [battle at center] right now. I thought the quarterbacks did well. We played a lot of quarterbacks and they all got better.”

In terms of numbers, Maddie’s led the way in the Huskie Bowl as he completed 15-of-15 passes for 186 yards and a score in the game, while his Black teammate Santacaterina was four-of-six for nine yards and a score. Ryan Graham (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South HS) led the Cardinal, completing eight-of-13 throws for 68 yards in the game. 

The Huskies will next be on the field together as a team, along with the incoming freshman class, in August for preseason practices.  NIU opens the 2016 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 3 at Wyoming.

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