DEKALB, Ill. – The NIU Huskies scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to earn a 27-19 victory over Western Michigan on Wednesday night at Huskie Stadium. Sophomore Jordan Huff rushed for 159 yards on just eight carries as the Huskies overturned a five-point third quarter deficit to earn their sixth consecutive victory.
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NIU (8-3, 6-1 MAC) can claim its sixth consecutive Mid-American Conference West Division crown with a victory over Ohio next Tuesday night at Huskie Stadium. Western Michigan fell to 6-5, 5-2 with the loss.
NIU led 14-10 at the half before nine third quarter points pushed the Broncos in front. Andrew Haldeman opened the second half scoring with a 31-yard field goal with 4:33 on the clock to pull Western Michigan within one, 14-13. The Broncos took the lead on their next drive as Zach Terrell connected with Corey Davis for 72 yards and a score. Western Michigan failed on its two-point attempt and the Broncos held a 19-14 lead with 1:57 remaining in the period.
A Huskie penalty on the ensuing kickoff pushed NIU back to its own seven, but the Huskies marched 93 yards in 12 plays to retake the lead, 20-19. Sophomore quarterback Ryan Graham converted a pair of third downs on the drive, connecting with senior Juwan Brescacin for eight yards on third-and-four and with junior Kenny Golladay for eight more on third-and-eight.
Graham, in his second start after taking over from injured starter Drew Hare, finished the night 11-of-23 passing for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Golladay led the Huskie receivers with four catches for 93 yards and a score.
A 20-yard run by Huff, along with a facemask penalty on Western Michigan, gave NIU a first down at the Bronco 12 and two plays later junior Joel Bouagnon found the end zone to put the Huskies back on top. NIU’s two-point conversion play failed, and the Huskies lead remained one at 20-19. Bouagnon gained 70 yards on 21 carries in the contest.
Western Michigan’s next drive ended with a 63-yard punt that was downed at the NIU three-yard line, but it took the Huskies just three plays and 53 seconds to extend their lead. Huff went for 44 yards on the first play from scrimmage and, after another Huff run went for no gain, Graham connected with Golladay down the middle for 53 yards and a score to put the Huskies in front, 27-19, with 8:15 to play.
The Broncos drove back inside the NIU five-yard line but were unable to get in the end zone. A double pass from Davis to Terrell for 22 yards gave the Broncos first-and-goal at the NIU four. Consecutive run plays were stuffed by senior Boomer Mays and junior Sean Folliard before a pair of incompletions, the second of which was broken up by sophomore Albert Smalls in the end zone, turned the ball over to the Huskies on downs.
Mays made 12 solo stops, a half sack and a pair of pass break-ups, to lead a Huskie defense that limited WMU’s formidable rushing attack to 139 yards on 44 attempts with no touchdowns. Jamauri Bogan paced the Broncos with 70 yards on 15 carries.
Western Michigan had one final chance with 2:13 left and no timeouts, but a sack by senior Ben Compton and a penalty pushed the Broncos into long yardage situation and Western Michigan again turned the ball over on downs, sealing the Huskie victory. Compton finished with a career-high six tackles, including two sacks.
Terrell was 20-of-36 passing on the night for 314 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Daniel Braverman recorded nine catches for 126 yards for the Broncos and Davis finished with seven catches for 123 yards.
Western Michigan opened the scoring with a field goal on its first drive of the night. The Broncos went 63 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 35-yard field goal by Haldeman.
NIU answered with a touchdown to take a 7-3 lead. Graham connected with junior Aregeros Turner from 27 yards out in the left corner to give the Huskies the lead. Turner had four catches for 42 yards in the contest.
The Huskies forced Western Michigan to punt early in the second quarter as the Broncos pinned the Huskies back to the 13-yard line, but it took NIU just one play to find the end zone. Huff raced 87 yards for the score, the seventh-longest touchdown rush in school history, and the longest since Jordan Lynch went 88 yards against Army in 2012.
A 35-yard touchdown pass from Terrell to Braverman trimmed the NIU lead to 14-10 with 6:56 to play in the second quarter. The touchdown pass capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:15 as the Broncos cut their deficit to four going into the break.
NIU will return to action next Tuesday night, Nov. 24, as the Huskies host Ohio in the regular season finale. Game time against the Bobcats is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPNU.
Western Michigan will close its regular season at Toledo (noon, Friday, Nov. 27). For more on WMU, click HERE.
(Courtesy of NIU Athletics/MRO Edit)