BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – It didn’t quite match the performance of a week ago, but Northern Illinois’ offense still put up some impressive numbers Tuesday night against Bowling Green.
The Huskies finished with 623 yards of total offense, cruising to a 45-14 win at Doyt Perry Stadium. The win, NIU’s fifth straight, came one week after NIU scored 63 points in a victory over Toledo.
NIU is now 7-3 overall, 5-1 and atop the Mid-American Conference’s West Division and completed a three-game road trip with a sweep.
Quarterback Chandler Harnish continued his outstanding senior season, finishing with 445 yards of total offense despite sitting most of the fourth quarter after the game was decided. Harnish completed 16 of 26 passes for 294 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
He also led all players with 151 yards rushing on 17 carries with a TD.
“When you run for 200 and they’re under 100, you’re going to win,” NIU coach Dave Doeren said in a postgame radio interview. “That’s what I want our program to be all about, stopping the run and running the ball, being physical.”
With the two TD passes Harnish tied George Bork (1960-63) with 60 for the most in NIU history.
Receiver Willie Clark had four receptions for 109 yards and two scores, including one from backup quarterback Jordan Lynch in the fourth quarter. It was the first TD pass of Lynch’s career.
NIU outscored Bowling Green 21-0 in the second half after the Falcons (4-6, 2-3 MAC) had scored late in the second quarter to cut the lead to 24-14 at halftime.
Both teams got off to a quick start offensively, with the Falcons scoring on the game’s first play from scrimmage on an 83-yard pass play from Matt Schilz to Kamar Jorden. After the extra point, the Falcons led 7-0 just 26 seconds into the game.
NIU’s offense then picked up where it left off from the Toledo game, scoring on its second play from scrimmage on a 56-yard pass from Harnish to Clark to tie the game at 7 exactly a minute into the game.
The Huskies defense then got the game’s first stop on Bowling Green’s next offensive possession, and the NIU offense responded by driving 63 yards in 13 plays, capped by a 1-yard TD run by Jasmin Hopkins, who finished with 59 yards rushing on 16 carries.
In what proved to be a key early turning point in the game, NIU had appeared to turn the ball over on downs after failing to score on fourth-and-goal from Bowling Green’s 1-yard line, but a personal foul on the Falcons gave Northern a fresh set of downs, and Hopkins scored three plays later for a 14-7 lead.
“I’m very pleased. I’m proud of the coaches, I’m proud of the players,” Doeren said. “A lot of people have said bad things about them, and they have a lot of pride and they played hard tonight and they put together a gameplan tonight and they executed it for the most part.”
Northern would add three more points on a 23-yard field goal by Mathew Sims at the 14:05 mark of the second quarter.
The Huskies added one more TD before halftime, with Akeem Daniels running a score in from two yards out to take a 24-7 lead with 1:21 remaining in the first half.