Western Michigan tops Huskies to improve to 6-0
KALAMAZOO — Senior wide receiver Corey Davis and junior running back Jarvion Franklin each put on a show Saturday night as Western Michigan improved to 6-0 in front of a near-capacity 28,042 homecoming crowd, defeating Northern Illinois 45-30 at Waldo Stadium.
The win moves the Broncos to 6-0, their best start since 1941.
“How about that crowd?,” Western coach P.J. Fleck said. “That’s what it is supposed to look like. To be honest that was the vision I had when I took over. I was talking to (Athletics Director) Kathy Beauregard when I first came here and I told her we don’t have a big enough stadium, because we are going to fill it so many times. She looked at me funny when I said that.
“We now have a 6-0 football team here in Kalamazoo that is ranked in the top-25 and only going up, I promise you that. This is a very special group of young men. If you want a great ball game, if you want a heck of a game day experience then come to Waldo Stadium.”
It was the Broncos’ first win over the Huskies since 2008, as WMU head coach P.J. Fleck defeated his alma mater for the first time in his career. Fleck was an all-conference wide receiver at NIU, playing from 1999-2003.
The Bronco offense erupted for 14 straight points in the second half to pull away from the Huskies, who had cut the lead to 24-23. Franklin finished with 249 total yards of offense and Davis had six catches for 122 yards and two TDs.
The two combined for a highlight reel series late in the third quarter. Holding onto the 24-23 lead, Franklin made a reception on a wheel route and NIU’s safety Mycial Allen lowered his shoulder on a hit that was flagged as a personal foul. Franklin, however, did not go down, absorbing the blow and then continuing down the sideline for a 39-yard gain, down to the NIU 23. Then, Davis, who was celebrated before the game for breaking the all-time MAC receiving yards record last week, had perhaps his best catch of the season a one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone to make it 31-23. It was his 41st TD grab of his career, passing Super Bowl champion Greg Jennings for the most touchdown receptions in school history.
Following a three-and-out by the Bronco defense, redshirt freshman Davon Tucker ripped off a 26-yard touchdown and WMU stretched its lead to 38-23.
The Huskies continued their fight, scoring a touchdown on an 8-yard run by quarterback Anthony Maddie with 8:38 left in the game. WMU answered back, as Terrell hit Davis for a 56-yard reception and then capped the Bronco drive scoring himself on a 2-yard keeper, for the final score of 45-30.
Western Michigan jumped on Northern Illinois from the start, scoring on two of its three drives in the first quarter to go up 14-0. Jarvion Franklin got his best day of the year started early, catching a 32-yard swing pass on 4th-and-5 for his second career receiving TD. Franklin was dominant on the ground as well, finishing with 31 carries for 169 yards and three catches for 80 yards. It was his second straight 100-yard rushing game.
Northern Illinois’ final two possessions resulted in interceptions by Robert Spillane and Justin Ferguson. The Broncos were able to run the remaining time off the clock taking a knee following the pick by Spillane.
Terrell recorded 327 yards passing on 18-of-24, throwing for three touchdowns and running for a fourth.
Spillane led Western Michigan with 11 tackles, while Ferguson registered 10.
WMU had 573 yards of total offense, its second highest production of the year.
The Broncos did not turn the ball over and remain as the only team in the nation that has zero turnovers on the year.
Who stood out
Jr. RB Jarvion Franklin: 2 TDs, 169 yards rushing, 3 receptions for 80 yards
Sr. WR Corey Davis: 2 TDs, 6 receptions, 122 yards
Sr. QB Zach Terrell: 327 yards, 4 TDs (3 rush, 1 pass), 18-24-0 (C-A-I)
Jr. LB Robert Spillane: 11 tackles, 1 INT
Sr. DB Justin Ferguson: 10 tackles 1 INT
Western Michigan returns to the road to take on Akron for the first time in three years, facing the Zips, Saturday, Oct. 15, at 3:30 p.m., on CBS Sports Network.