DeKALB, Ill. - It was, perhaps, the best drive that nobody could see.
Fog rolled in at Huskie Stadium during the second quarter of last night's game between Toledo and Northern Illinois. It became a thick soup that made each sideline invisible to the other by the 9:00 mark of the first half.
That's when UT, which won the game 17-13, began a drive at its 19-yard line after a Huskie punt.
Running back Jalen Parmele started the Rockets' possession with a 14-yard gain and the Rockets drove 81 yards on 14 plays, 13 of them rushes, to take a 17-7 lead. The drive took seven minutes, 29 seconds and featured a 15-yard gain by Richard Davis and a six-yard option keeper by quarterback Aaron Opelt for the touchdown.
The only pass play of the drive went from Opelt to tight end John Allen for a six-yard gain on a third-and-five play from the Toledo 38.
"The fog like that, weather like that, is good for goose hunting, but's it's tough for football," UT coach Tom Amstutz said. "The fog had a lot to do with our play selection but running the ball also allowed us to keep the clock moving and keep their guy [NIU tailback Garrett Wolfe] off the field."
The action on the field was pretty much a rumor to the crowd, which was announced at 19,267. ESPN2, which televised the game, used a ground level, sideline camera that provided a less murky view of the game than the white-out that plagued fans in the stands.
Officials twice stopped play to reset the scoreboard game clock. Then, realizing that clock operators in the press box could not see their signals, the referee ordered the clock turned off and time was kept on the field.
Sparked by a 26-yard kickoff return and a pair of pass interference penalties against UT, Northern Illinois drove for a field goal in the waning seconds of the half to pull within 17-10.
The fog lifted considerably by during halftime, but returned in full force by midway through the fourth quarter.
MORE TUESDAYS: Last night's game was the first of three straight Tuesday night starts for the Rockets, who were appearing on national TV for the 24th time in six seasons under coach Tom Amstutz. The next two games - next Tuesday against Ball State and Nov. 21 against Bowling Green - will also be televised by ESPN2.
"I like it," Amstutz said of mid-week games. "Being on ESPN is always a great opportunity to sell our program.
"If you're going to do it, you might as well play three in a row. That lets us get into a routine with practice and preparation."
NIU coach Joe Novak liked having 10 days between games against Iowa and Toledo.
"That's not a bad thing, especially at this point of the season," he said. "But to be honest, I'm not a fan of playing during the week."
THREE-DOT DATA: Steve Odom extended his NCAA-best streak of consecutive games with at least one pass reception to 47 straight. He did it with a three-yard touchdown catch that tied the game at 7 with 6:11 left in the first quarter. Odom's 19th career TD reception moved him into third place on UT's all-time list. Freshman wide receiver Stephen Williams made his first collegiate rush and gained 13 yards on a reverse. UT cornerback Nigel Morris had his second interception of the season and the sixth of his career. A string of 42 consecutive starts ended for UT offensive guard David Perkins, who did not play last night because of injury. In his place was 6-4, 313-pound senior Chad Diggs, who started for the first time in his career.
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