Football: Huskies get schooled but learn a lesson

Football: Huskies get schooled but learn a lesson

There are few times when a team gets shut out and the coach thinks positive thoughts the next day.

But this was neither an ordinary game nor a usual opponent for the Northeastern Huskies. A day after losing 38-0 against Virginia Tech, a Division I opponent ranked 17th in the nation coach Rocky Hager was happy about his team’s growth.

“It was an experience we were provided with that gave us good teaching material to give to our football team,” coach Hager said. “I feel good about the players accepting the responsibility of playing such an opponent and the way they handled it.”

A 38-point drubbing at the hands of a non-conference opponent would normally be considered forgettable, but some of the things the Huskies did were singular.

The largest crowd to ever watch a Husky football game, and the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in the state of Virginia, (66,233 fans at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va.) saw some of the best Northeastern has to offer.

Northeastern held the ball longer than the Hokies in the game, 35 minutes to 24 minutes. Junior tailback Maurice Murray rushed 18 times for 69 yards and sophomore runningback Alex Broomfield rushed 11 times for 31 yards, a total of 101 yards against a highly respected defense. The Husky highlight of the game came in the third quarter when they denied the Hokies the yard they needed for a first down and forced the Hokies to turn the ball over on downs.

“We wanted Murray to carry the ball 15-20 times,” Hager said. “He showed up well in protection assignments and played like a warrior out there. I’m proud of the way Maurice played.”

Hager had similar praise for his defense.

“I really felt like our defense showed a good deal of resilience; we usually don’t see the speed VT throws at you and we usually don’t see the arm strength of their quarterback,” Hager said.

Hokie sophomore quarterback Sean Glennon stretched the Northeastern secondary all over the field, throwing touchdown passes of 54 and 55 yards for scores. Glennon finished 15-of-18 for 22 yards with one interception on the day. His primary target in the air was freshman wide receiver Josh Morgan, who caught two passes for 65 yards and one touchdown.

“He’s a really fast receiver and has good height,” Hager said.

Husky sophomore quarterback Anthony Orio did all he could for the Huskies, completing 13 of 24 passes on the day for 103 yards. The Husky pass attack was handicapped before the game even started with the loss of senior wide receiver Marc Thomas, who was Orio’s primary option. Hager declined to comment on Thomas’ absence. In his place was red-shirt freshman Ron Conway, who caught one pass for four yards.

“VT loads up the front [on the line of scrimmage] and dares us to run but asks us to throw,” Hager said. “We’re young in the receiving corps and there’s some learning in the contest, and there’ll be some learning later and it was a good experience for all of us.”

NU’s defense settled down after giving up the long touchdown passes to Glennon, eventually intercepting the sophomore and blocking a Hokie field goal attempt. The Husky line was solid in the second quarter, stopping the Hokies on consecutive downs and pressuring Glennon to throw a pass into the hands of senior cornerback Louvans Charlot for his first career interception. It was the secondary that provided the most positive feelings for the defense, particularly senior safety Lamar Gay and junior linebacker A.J. Lillie who led the team with seven tackles each.

Despite the adjustments on defense and the powerful running, the Huskies still did what most expected them to do – lose. To win the Huskies needed more than solid play, they needed perfection.

“We knew that we were going into a situation that we had to play perfectly to have a chance to win,” Hager said.

However, Hager said good teams are determined by more than a single game. It’s improvement he’s looking for and expecting.

“We’re are going to look at the things we need to improve from. The teams that are most successful improve from week one to week two; we need to control the things that we can control,” Hager said.

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