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Nation: NIU gets D back on track in easy win

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Published November 2, 2003

DEKALB, Ill. - Michael Turner had three touchdowns and 126 yards rushing, and Josh Haldi ran for two scores as Northern Illinois beat Ball State 48-23 on Saturday.

Northern Illinois got a dominant performance from its defense a week after it was picked apart in a loss to Bowling Green. That dropped the Huskies one game behind Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference, dimming their bowl hopes.

Northern Illinois forced five turnovers, including three in a 27-point second quarter. Turner ran for an 18-yard touchdown and caught a 31-yard score.

Turner, who entered as the nation's third-leading rusher, topped 100 yards for the 18th time in his career and had 104 by halftime. He also had 52 yards receiving.

The Huskies shut down Ball State a week after allowing 634 yards, their worst defensive outing of the season. Northern Illinois picked off Ball State quarterback Talmadge Hill twice and forced two fumbles.

All the first-half turnovers were costly.

Lionel Hickenbottom's first interception of the season set up a 3-yard touchdown pass from Haldi to tight end Pat Raleigh.

On Ball State's next possession, the Cardinals faced third and 5 when Hill rolled right under pressure and threw it at linebacker Brian Atkinson.

The Huskies scored 12 plays later when Haldi scrambled out of the pocket and ran 10 yards for a score and a 27-7 lead.

With 37 seconds left in the first half, Leonard Cooksey knocked the ball out of the hands of running back Blair Scott. Ray Smith recovered and returned it 17 yards to the Ball State 31.

Two plays later, Turner caught a screen pass and darted up the right sideline to give the Huskies a 34-7 halftime lead.

UTAH 45, AIR FORCE 43 (3OT): Tight end Ben Moa, taking a direct snap in the shotgun formation, ran for a 1-yard touchdown, then completed a two-point conversion pass to Matt Hansen as the visiting Utes moved into first place in the Mountain West.

The Falcons rallied from a 23-7 third-quarter deficit to force overtime.

Air Force, taking possession first in the initial overtime, got a 1-yard scoring run from quarterback Chance Harridge. Moa responded with a 1-yard run on Utah's first series.

Utah's Alex Smith threw an 18-yard touchdown to Paris Warren in the second overtime, but Air Force countered on Harridge's 9-yard pass to Alex Messerall.

UCONN 41, W. MICHIGAN 27: Cornell Brockington ran for four touchdowns and caught a pass for another to lead the host Huskies to a comeback win.

The Huskies are 4-0 against Mid-American Conference teams this season and are bowl eligible for the first time since the program began its upgrade to Division I-A five years ago. UConn is in its final year as an independent and will join the Big East next year.

WOFFORD 42, CITADEL 16: J.R. McNair rushed for two touchdowns and the visiting Terriers forced six turnovers to clinch a tie for the Southern Conference title.

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