Skyy Moore got in on elite company and helped the West Michigan soccer team win a bowl offer in the Broncos’ 42-21 win over northern Illinois on Tuesday at the stadium Huskie.
The second wide receiver tied a WMU single-game record with four touchdown catches and finished with 12 catches for a career-high 206 yards, joining Greg Jennings and Jayden Reed as the only Broncos to have received four goals scored .
Jennings, a longtime NFL wide receiver and Super Bowl champion with the Green Bay Packers, accomplished the feat in a 2005 loss to Ball State, while Reed, who is currently fourth in the Big Ten to receive at Michigan State, scored four touchdowns in a 2018 Victory over Miami.
“I’m just trying to do my job,” Moore said. “Kaleb’s job is to throw it, and my job is to catch it, and I’m just trying to make my one-of-11 on the team.”
Moore’s first touchdown by quarterback Kaleb Eleby came down a 50-yard incline that gave WMU (7-5, 4-4 MAC) a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter and gave it back. momentum to the Broncos on the sidelines, after NIU (8-4, 6-2) tied the game on a 96-yard touchdown from the 6-foot-1, 220-pound full-back Clint Ratkovich in the first game of the Huskies of the second stanza.
WMU never followed Moore’s first appearance in the end zone, increasing his advantage to 35-7 thanks to three more touchdown connections with Eleby covering 6, 29 and 12 yards.
The 29-yard touchdown – a fingertip grab on a perfect pass from Eleby – converted a fourth-and-four play and gave the Broncos a 28-7 lead at halftime.
The teams traded punts to start the third quarter, and in their second practice after the break, WMU maintained their attack on the field at the fourth and sixth of the NIU 20-yard line, but the Broncos didn’t failed to convert a backstroke to Moore, who was well covered in the end zone.
After the turnover on the lows, the WMU defense forced their third three-and-outs of the game, which resulted in a good field position and led to a 55-yard drive capped by a tilt. from 12 yards to Moore, in which he put the Huskies cornerback through the rotation cycle with a nice outside feint before cutting down midfield for an unchallenged catch.
“I feel like I do a good job during the week watching movies and game plans around every corner, and I feel like I could explode every week,” Moore said.
Moore’s 206 yards rank eighth in program history, while his 91 catches this year and 1,256 yards place him seventh and eighth, respectively.
The Pittsburgh native has at least seven catches in every game this season, with the exception of the Week 1 loss to Michigan and the Week 10 victory over Akron.
The slant route has been Moore’s bread and butter throughout the season, but the WMU coaching staff have made it their business to diversify Moore’s touches, including on a pair of throws against NIU.
Asked about being at the top of a defense scout report, Moore said he welcomes the challenge.
“It’s part of what comes to be one of those guys,” he said. “Last year I knew Dee (Eskridge) was getting all the attention, and I saw him explode again – like no one could control him – so that comes with it. You get more attention when you do. your work, that’s kind of a compliment, I would say.
Eleby also had her best game of the season, completing 21 of 26 passes for 338 yards, with her five touchdowns tied for fourth in WMU single game history.
The Maryland Heights, Missouri sophomore found Brett Borske for a one-yard touchdown pass that gave WMU a 7-0 lead and marked the tight end’s first touchdown. senior of the season in front of friends and family who drove the 40-mile drive from his hometown of Naperville to DeKalb.
Jaylen Hall and Corey Crooms each added 63 receiving yards and helped Eleby take her season tally to 3,115 yards, ranking 10th in single-season WMU history.
“We had a good plan for the game this week,” Eleby said. “We knew they were leading a lot of men (coverage), a lot of coverage-0, and as a quarterback that’s what you hope. The offensive line has done a great job in terms of protection. I thought the running backs handled the ball well and the perimeter guys were making plays. The defense played well tonight, and honestly it was a good team win. It was very necessary for us as a team, and I am delighted that we are now officially going to the bowl. It’s something to celebrate here today this Thanksgiving week, and I’m excited.
WMU’s running game racked up 298 yards at 6.0 per carry, with Sean Tyler leading with 115 of 17 carries. His 12-yard touchdown with 10:06 left in the fourth quarter gave the Broncos a 42-14 lead and put him at 1,025 for the season.
Backfield teammates La’Darius Jefferson (10 carries for 77 yards) and Jackson Kincaide (9 for 43) also pulled off the pebble and prevented the NIU defense from dropping the players into the cover.
True WMU freshman quarterback Mareyohn Hrabowski also contributed to the running game in his most extensive action this season, totaling 77 yards on 10 carries – all on designed tracks. It was the River Rouge native’s third appearance this season, meaning he will be able to play in the boules game while retaining his red jersey.
“I was very proud of Mareyohn tonight,” Eleby said. “At the hotel the day before the game, he’s my roommate, and for him to have that moment and to be able to step in and make crucial plays against the MAC West champions in a game we needed, I was very proud… He looked comfortable there, and that was the most important thing I was proud of.
In a season that saw head coach Tim Lester and co-offensive coordinators Mike Bath and Eric Evans call the games, wide receivers coach Greg Harbaugh Jr. called his first game on Tuesday in stride. of WMU’s 22-21 loss to Eastern Michigan.
“I felt I needed to make a change, and I gave him the reins this week to put the game plan in place,” Lester said. “Obviously I helped in every way I could, and I thought he did a phenomenal job mixing them up; unbalanced them.
The WMU defense kept NIU at 291 yards overall, including just 23 in the air, but the Huskies’ offense did not include starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi, who struggled with injury over the two. last few weeks, and with the MAC West title over, there was not much to be gained from risking further damage.
Big plays bolstered the Huskies’ ground play, with NIU pulling off three more than 40 yard touchdown passes, including 44 and 41 yard sprints by Anntario Brown.
Apart from those big winners, the Broncos kept NIU at 3.6 yards per carry, thanks to the great efforts of AJ Thomas (8 tackles, 1 TFL), Ali Fayad (4 tackles, 1 sack), Ryan Selig (4 tackles, 1 sack), Braden Fiske (3 tackles, 1 TFL) and Ralph Holley (2 tackles, 1 TFL).
WMU also forced two turnovers – a Selig fumble on a bad snap and a missed kickoff recovered by Harrison Taylor – improving the Broncos’ record to 5-0 when they recorded a takeaway.
On a night when the 20 mph winds made kicking the field a risky business, WMU freshman Zahir Abdus-Salaam also missed a kickoff that NIU recovered on the line. of the Broncos’ 27 yards, but the defense buckled up and forced a missed basket. .
Cautions from the starting quarterback aside, it was a much-needed victory for WMU, having lost four of their last six games, including a 0-4 mark to opponents MAC West, But DeKalb is never an easy place to play, and the Broncos earned their first victory at Huskie Stadium since 2007 and only their second victory since Lester’s senior season in 1999.
“One thing that is guaranteed in football is adversity, and that being said, the most important thing is to respond to adversity,” Eleby said. “It’s something that Coach Lester and this team have preached time and time again – respond, respond, respond – and through the ups and downs, staying balanced and coming back and coming back whatever the outcome. , and I feel like that showed tonight with this team as a unit, and I’m excited. It was a big win against the champions MAC West, and that was just our first win. “
WMU’s seven wins guarantee the 11th bowl game in the program’s history, and its destination is expected to be revealed in early December.
Potential destinations include the Bahamas Bowl, Lending Tree Bowl (Mobile, Ala.), Potato Bowl (Boise, Idaho), Myrtle Beach Bowl (Conway, SC), Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.), Arizona Bowl (Tucson, Arizona) and the Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit).
While a 4-4 conference final must be a bit of a disappointment when two of WMU’s wins are against MAC champion West NIU and ACC champion Coastal Pittsburgh, ending the season with a bowl win would put the Broncos eight wins for. the first time since 2016 and just the ninth time in the history of the program.
With Moore and Eleby among the players set to return next year, additional bowl play practices and an end-of-season momentum could spark a special 2022 campaign.
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