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February 29, 2024

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Northern Illinois remains positive

Northern Illinois did not make excuses after Saturday’s 34-18 loss to the Falcons.

Some talked about how one or two plays could have changed the flow of the game, or how a referee call hurt their cause.

But in the end, they said that the Falcons had just played better. “[Bowling Green] made plays when they needed to, we didn’t,” said Joe Novak, the Northern Illinois coach.

Running back Michael Turner, who ate up the BG defense in Dekalb, Ill., last season, was largely ineffective, rushing for 87 yards on 18 carries.

Novak said that falling behind BG early made it difficult for the Huskies to rely on their star running back.

“Honestly, we really felt we’d come out and run the football today,” Novak said. “We struggled early then we got behind … when we get behind we lose our best weapon.

Northern Illinois’ best chance to get into the game may have been in the first quarter, when Turner took a handoff 68 yards for a touchdown. The Huskies were trailing 14-0 at the time, and the touchdown could have been a turning point.

But a holding call negated the score, and Northern Illinois was unable to score on the possession.

Quarterback Josh Haldi said he couldn’t see if the penalty should have been called.

“I can’t say, I didn’t see [the play],” Haldi said. “It was big because it was a touchdown, but we just didn’t execute.”

Novak said the wiped out touchdown changed the complexion of the game.

“As bad as we started off with it, with Turner’s run…we’re back in the game,” Novak said. “It’s 14-7, and I saw that hankie thrown.” “The officials did not cost us the game, we had a bad game,” Novak said. “They had a bad game too.”

Haldi said he didn’t have a strong game, and the BG defense capitalized.

“I put a lot of the blame on me, offensively,” Haldi said. “We didn’t make plays when we had to, and they did a real good job.”

Haldi was 14-29 for 165 yards, throwing two touchdown passes and two interceptions. He was sacked six times.

“I’ve been hurried before, and for whatever reason I just didn’t so a good job,” Haldi said of the BG pressure.

Novak said the BG defense played hard.

“The defense played great today,” Novak said. “You don’t see a bunch of stars over there, except maybe Patton…but the thing I like about them [BG’s] kids play hard.”

Novak gave credit to BG quarterback Josh Harris, who had a career day for the Falcons.

“Those kind of quarterbacks drive you crazy,” Novak said. “You can do everything correctly, but he’ll scramble around, be athletic enough to keep the play going.”

Despite the loss, Novak said the team wouldn’t dwell on the loss. “I told them there’s a lot of football to be played,” Novak said. “BG’s in the driver’s seat, and they should be…but we’re 7-1, and it’s not like the season’s over. We got a lot to play for.”

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