Football: Another road loss for the Huskies

It was another tough loss for Northeastern’s men of the gridiron Saturday: A 52-14 defeat at the hands of Atlantic-10 opponent James Madison (2-1, 1-0 A-10) in Harrisonburg, Va.

Northeastern (1-3, 0-1 A-10) fell behind early, allowing the Dukes to score 21 points each in the first and second quarters for a commanding 42-0 halftime lead. The difference proved too much for the Huskies to overcome.

“It was a rough trip for us,” said head coach Rocky Hager. “We started too slowly and dug ourselves a hole that was deeper than we were able to negotiate out of, and James Madison’s a good football team.”

The Dukes led with a combination of offensive threats, most notably senior quarterback Justin Rascati who was 12 of 16 passing for 212 yards and three touchdowns. He connected with junior wide receiver L.C. Baker for two scores, including a 71-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to go up 14-0.

The long touchdown pass was the second score for the Dukes, and followed a 74-yard touchdown run by junior tailback Eugene Holloman. Holloman had 10 rushes for 137 yards on the day and was a huge part of the Duke running game that the Huskies couldn’t muster a lick of defense against.

“We just need to fit where we’re supposed to as far as stopping the run,” Hager said. “They took advantage of a situation of us substituting a young defensive back on a play action pass, something you’d rather not put a young guy into but something they will grow up from. I think we’ll improve.”

The Dukes had 44 rushes for 335 yards, while the Huskies collected only 118 yards on 26 carries.

The majority of the Husky yards came from sophomore running back Alex Broomfield, who had nine rushes for a career-high 105 yards. Broomfield received the majority of the carries as junior tailback Maurice Murray’s playing time was limited due to knee tendinitis.

Hager said he is confident the Huskies will be a much different club when Murray is healthy again and finally paired back up with Broomfield in the backfield.

“The two have completely different styles of running,” Hager said. “Alex will make you miss and Murray will jam it in the inside and break tackles. Because of that contrast, they’re nice together and it’d be nice to have them both at full strength.”

Sophomore quarterback Anthony Orio posted another solid game, completing 12 of 17 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. He connected with senior tight end Kendrick Ballantyne for the second time in as many weeks for the touchdown, a 17-yard score.

The loss certainly makes things more difficult for the Huskies, who are now 0-1 in Atlantic-10 play. But Hager said a winning team is a possibility.

“There is a lot of football left to be played,” Hager said. “I would say that it’s not likely the conference champion will be undefeated. The other part is it’s not just the conference champion that ends up being in the playoffs, but most important, we gotta keep things together to win.”

The loss is the Huskies’ worst since a 42-0 trouncing by Delaware in 2000. They will try to get off the slide next week against Richmond (3-0), the last of their season-opening, five-game road trip. Northeastern pummeled the Spiders 45-0 the last time they met in 2003.

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