...but man that was ugly.
Heroes were abound late Saturday and Northern Illinois proved that football is a team sport in their 16-13 win over Bowling Green.
Stats can't explain this game.
QB Chandler Harnish - 19 rushes for 116 yds. 5 of 12 passing for 45 yds and 2 ints. What? Zero completions to a WR. Huh?
It truly was a game of 2 halves.
It all starts out with the coin toss. Coach Kill made the right decision choosing to defer so that he could choose which side to defend in the extremely windy afternoon in Huskie Stadium.
BG starts off and sputters on offense, while Spencer Williamson managed somehow to get a piece of the ball during the Falcon punt as it only traveled 32 yds. RB Me'co Brown managed to move the chains just enough for K Mike Salerno to make a school record-tying FG of 52 yds with the wind at his back. 3-0 Huskies.
BG tries driving again but ends up punting the ball. On our own 9 yard line, QB Chandler Harnish throws an uncharacteristic interception right to the Bowling Green defender. The Falcons then fail to get into the endzone thanks to some GREAT red zone defense by the Huskies and settle for a FG. 3-3
We get the ball again and Harnish completes a ball to TE Brandon Beal (where's he been the last 4 years?) for a first down as this drive is looking promising. A couple of plays later, Harnish throws another pick right to the defender AGAIN!
BG doesn't score there, but punt it well enough to give us very poor field position. After a punt by Andy Dittbenner that the wind took, the Falcons were looking to get it in the endzone starting on our own 36 yd line. Thanks to our phenomenal defense, we managed to keep them from getting 7 in the red zone ONE MORE TIME. 6-3 Bowling Green.
Fueled by rushes by Chandler Harnish and Chad Spann (and another Beal sighting), we were able to run out some clock towards the end of the 1st half. The drive went for 13 plays and just over 6 minutes. The wind was just brutal at this point and we couldn't manage to put any points on the board as Salerno's attempt from 49 just got hooked by the wind going left.
Then it started. The entire momentum of the game changed during our possession right after kickoff.
A healthy dose of runs started by Me'co Brown and ended by Chad Spann with some Harnish sprinkled in between changed the Huskies viewpoint for the 2nd half.
17 plays, 80 yds, 10:06 time elapsed off the clock. 1 pass thrown and caught. We were just running it right at them, and it worked with Spann punching it in with just under 5 mins left in the 3rd. 10-6 NIU.
The Bowling Green offense got going after that, as QB Tyler Sheehan and RB Anthony Turner were able to get some space to makes some plays. Eventually we didn't put enough pressure on Sheehan as he was able to throw a TD pass. 13-10 BGSU.
At this point, I was confident that we would be able to stay in this game. Our defense was still going strong and hitting hard, as our offense was as confident as ever tearing through the BG defense.
Along came Brown, Harnish and Spann again eating up over 8 minutes, 16 plays for 72 yds and setting Salerno up for a FG that he would make from 25. ALL RUNNING PLAYS. 13-13.
BGSU sputters and then falls flat on their face as 6'3" WR Landon Cox came in to block their punt attempt.
You know the recipe: Brown, Harnish & Spann. Rushing the ball. We ran the clock down to :15 secs and kicked a FG on 2nd down. I guess just in case we had a couple of bad snaps or something of that nature. Salerno makes the kick of his life to put NIU ahead by 3, 16-13.
A regular return would result in a BGSU fumble and an NIU recovery. Victory is ours.