If Northern Illinois is going to extend its winning streak over Toledo, it may have to do so without two of its most veteran playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.
In the second quarter of the Huskies’ game against the No. 24 (College Football Playoff ranking) Rockets, starting wide receiver Tommylee Lewis went down with what looked like a knee injury on a play in which he wasn’t hit by a defender. A handful of minutes later, starting quarterback Drew Hare went down with another non-contact injury.
Neither player could make it off the field under his own power. Lewis’ return has been labeled doubtful, although even that might be overly optimistic. Hare has already been ruled out for the remainder of the game, with the last television picture of him showed him headed off into the locker room on crutches after his father had come down from the stands to talk to him.
As for the game itself, the undefeated Rockets, which have lost five straight to the Huskies coming in, have taken a 17-16 lead into halftime. UT’s running game is the biggest reason behind the lead as they have plowed their way to 198 yards on the ground. Terry Swanson leads with a team-high 108 yards on just eight carries.
Lewis was well on his way to his best statistical game of the season prior to his injury as he had five catches for 125 yards and the Huskies’ lone touchdown; his previous 2015 high was 80 yards. Hare, who had started all nine games this season, has been replaced by Ryan Graham. Prior to this game, the redshirt freshman had attempted five passes this season.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t make note of a couple of quintessential #MACtion moments from the first half:
- With under two minutes left in the first quarter, and immediately after a play that lost 32 yards, Hare completed a 50-yard pass to Lewis on a third-and-39 play. That drive ended in a field goal.
- On a fourth-and-eight from their own 13-yard line, Toledo punter Nick Ellis ran for 18 yards for the first down on the fake, and was summarily blasted at the end of the play. That extension didn’t lead to any points as Ellis was forced to punt four plays later.