Doggy-Style

BROOKLINE – If all had gone according to plan on Saturday afternoon, the Northeastern cheerleaders would’ve held their banner high, proud, and firm as the 10th-ranked Husky football team triumphantly blasted through the thin paper wall and out onto the field.

What occurred, however, was a sign of things to come at Parson’s Field.

After some delay due to a number of rips and gaping holes in the sign, the cheerleaders held it awkwardly as linebacker Adam Walter busted through it and onto the field. Later, Walter and his defensive teammates would similarly tear through Hofstra all afternoon, leading NU to a 28-17 win over the No. 24 Pride.

A week after allowing only 26 yards on the ground to Massachusetts, the Huskies yielded a measly minus-26 yards to the Flying Dutchmen. This was due largely to the defensive efforts of Steve Anzalone (3 sacks, 8 tackles) and Adam Walter (2 sacks, 10 tackles), who combined for five sacks, resulting in a total loss of 57 yards. Northeastern linebackers were swooping and diving through Hofstra’s offensive line all day, creating havoc for quarterback Ryan Cosentino (25 of 43, 299 yards), and producing big plays for the Huskies defensive unit.

“I was very impressed with the defense. I think Coach Brown has done a great job, he’s got a veteran team, and they play like it,” Hofstra coach Joe Gardi said. “We were in too many second and twenties, third and forty, second and forties. It’s a credit to their blitzing defense. It wasn’t second and ten or third and ten, it was second and hundreds. They’re a tenacious, blitzing defense.”

Much of the first quarter appeared to be a comedy of errors as neither team could establish anything offensively. The Huskies took the kickoff and started from their own 20-yard line, but had only four punts (one of which was blocked), two fumbled snaps, and seven incomplete passes to show for themselves after 15 minutes. The Pride were able to fair marginally better, putting three points on the board despite a fumble by towering receiver Marques Colston, a muffed punt return by Robert Thomas that backed them up to their own goal-line, and ten incomplete passes by Ryan Cosentino.

With their sloppy play continuing into the second quarter, it appeared as though NU’s day would go from bad to worse. Following a defensive stand, the Huskies took the ball at their own 31. Red-shirt freshman Anthony Riley (20 carries, 93 yards) took the ball three yards, and sophomore QB Shawn Brady (8 of 22, 93 yards) came under center at the 34. He took a quick drop and slipped a pass to Quintin Mitchell (2 catches, 33 yards) on the left side line as Hofstra cornerback Robert Thomas stepped in front, collected the ball and scampered the remaining 40 yards for the touchdown and a 10-0 Hofstra lead.

After the game Thomas commented on the play. “I thought the receiver ran his route pretty lazy,” he said.

With a little luck, Northeastern’s offense started to show signs of life. William Griffin (24 rushes, 126 yards) started the drive and his career day by moving the Huskies up to the 47-yard line before two much needed 24-yard passes by quarterback Shawn Brady. In the second, Brady exacted some revenge on cornerback Thomas. Brady lofted a ball down the left sideline to Curtis Gulliam. Thomas’ outstretched hands tipped the ball up in the air, only to have it land softly into Northeastern hands. Gulliam’s only catch of the day brought him and the Huskies to the 5-yard line. Two plays later, William Griffin punched the ball in untouched off a quarterback option from Shawn Brady for the team’s first points of the day.

With the Huskies now down three points, the defense started to take over the visitors, and the game. After squashing a Hofstra drive at the Northeastern 30 yard line and forcing the Pride into a 4th and 35 situation, NU got an interception from cornerback Art Smith (2 interceptions), and the offense was back on the field.

Following tough running by Anthony Riley, quarterback Shawn Brady dropped back in the pocket looking in the direction of running back Tim Gale (5 catches, 36 yards). The ball, which was tipped at the line, dropped right into Gale’s hands. Neither Gale nor Northeastern looked back as NU took a 14-10 lead into halftime.

“This win wasn’t artistic in any way, shape, or form,” Coach Don Brown said. “There were a lot of things that we won’t like when we watch the game tape, but it’s part of being a football team. We had a punt blocked, [but] we survived. We gave them good field position and had bad field position, we survived. You have no control over some things in football, but it’s part of being a good football team. You’ve got to overcome challenges. It’s a war.”

Perhaps two of the games’ most significant plays occurred during the third quarter. The first of which came at the 9:59 mark with the Huskies still up 14-10, and Hofstra controlling the ball on 1-yard line. It looked inevitable that they would score. But it was not to be. After an illegal procedure penalty pushed the Dutchmen back to the 6, they ran to the left, and as the runner was hit, the ball popped 10 feet in the air. It landed on the 5-yard line in the hands of Northeastern’s own Scott Quimby. Crisis averted.

“I was concerned coming into this game about our emotion level,” Brown said. “We’d had three very emotional games before this one. We weren’t quite up to it and made some mistakes, but I think we also showed a lot of our character. When we needed it, the D[efense] stepped up.”

With the third quarter winding down, the Huskies showed they had yet one more trick up their sleeves. Anthony Riley took a pitch from Shawn Brady at Hofstra’s 24 yard line, ran three feet to the right, and heaved the ball back to Brady, who was waiting for it on the left sideline. Flying no more were the Dutchmen.

“Shawn will be the first to tell you he didn’t have his best game,” Brown said. “He wasn’t throwing it well, but he did catch it good.”

NOTES: With the win, the Huskies improve to 2-0 in the Atlantic Ten for the first time ever

Leave a Reply