USF (2-0) earned 658 yards of total offense with 293 rushing and 365 passing yards in the contest. The Bulls took a 27-7 lead at halftime and . . .
“They ran the ball; we didn’t run the ball well enough. We couldn’t convert on third down and they did,” said NIU Head Coach Rod Carey. “We’ve got to coach better; we’ve got to play better. It’s two games. We’ll take 24 hours to learn from this and put it away. That’s what we do.”
Sophomore Ryan Graham relieved Hare and led NIU on its second touchdown drive, an eight-play, 75-yard effort. Aregeros Turner, who had 149 all-purpose yards on the day with 18 rushing and 39 receiving in addition to his five kickoff returns, recorded his second touchdown of the day on an eight-yard reception as he followed the blocks of Shane Wimann and Christian Blake into the end zone.
Graham finished the game completing 9 of 15 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown.
“We had a couple of good drives, our linebackers played pretty good overall, I thought,” Carey said. “They weren’t going to let 19 [Kenny Golladay] get a big play on them. That’s going to happen all year.”
Joel Bouagnon gained 72 yards on 14 carries to lead the NIU rushing attack, while the Huskies’ top receivers were Turner, with six catches for 39 yards, junior Christian Blake, who caught six passes for 53 yards and senior Kenny Golladay with four catches for 43 yards. Jake Ambrose punted 10 times in the game for an average of 38.9 yards per punt.
USF quarterback Quinton Flowers threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers while completing 21-of-33 passes for 350 yards. Darius Tice ran for 120 yards on 19 carries to lead the Bulls’ rushing attack.
“He’s an elusive guy,” Carey said of the USF QB. “He throws the deep ball well and can run. They got us on some big plays; those are things we have to correct.”
Compared to last week’s penalty-marred game, the contest was relatively clean, with NIU being called for just four fouls for 50 yards. The game was turnover-free until USF fumbled a punt late, leading to NIU’s 22-yard Christian Hagan field goal with 2:34 to play.
The first half was a struggle for the Huskies, who trailed 27-0 before the offense engineered its first extended drive of the game to put NIU on the scoreboard. From its 25-yard line, NIU drove nine plays in 75 yards and 3:41 with Aregeros Turner scoring on a four-yard run on fourth down and two from the USF four-yard line. Turner had started the drive with a five-yard pick-up and caught a five-yard pass. Hare hit Kenny Golladay for 22 yards to pick up one big chunk of yardage, while Joel Bouagnon had a season-long 28-yard run to the USF 12-yard line.
USF first got on the board on its second possession of the game. From its 20, the Bulls drove 80 yards in 10 plays. The big plays were a 45-yard completion from Flowers to Marquez Scantling on third and eight, and a 13-yard completion on third and 13 for a first down at the NIU 23. From there, Flowers rushed for 13 yards and then receiver Rodney Adams scored on an 11-yard jet sweep.
The Bulls scored their second touchdown via the big play. After a Jake Ambrose 51-yard punt, USF took just three plays to go 84 yards with Flowers hitting Ryshen Bronson for the 73-yard touchdown score. With 3:25 to play in the quarter, USF took a 14-0 lead.
NIU managed one first down as Christian Blake caught a 16-yard pass before being forced to punt again. This time, the NIU defense held USF to a field goal 31-yard field goal by Emilio Nadelman.
After USF forced a three-and-out by the Huskies, USF drove 74 yards in five plays to take a 24-0 lead. Flowers threw his second touchdown pass of the game, hitting Adams for 26 yards out at the 11:07 mark of the second quarter.
The Bulls extended their lead to 27-0 on a Nadelman 34-yard field goal with 5:17 left in the half.
NIU opens its 2016 home schedule versus San Diego State. Kickoff time is set for 2:30 p.m. at Huskie Stadium and the game will be broadcast by CBS Sports Network.
(Courtesy of NIU Athletics)