The Northern Illinois Huskies moved to 5-2 (3-0 MAC) on the season after defeating the Bowling Green Falcons 34-26 on Saturday afternoon. The Huskies relied on their ground game to carry them to victory over BGSU (2-5, 0-3 MAC), as they only attempted eight passes all game but ran for more than 300 yards on the day.
After Antario Brown, who was playing in relief of Harrison Waylee, went down with an injury on the Huskies’ first posession, NIU relied on their 3rd-string back, Jay Ducker, to move the ball...and he did not disappoint. Ducker finished the game with 210 yards on 33 carries and became the first NIU player to rush for more than 200 yards in a game since Jordan Lynch did it in 2013.
As a team, Northern ran for 319 yards on 59 attempts (5.4 yards/run) while going just 4/8 passing for a mere 38 yards. When Ducker needed a breather, Mason Blakemore came in for the Huskies and looked just as good, running for 44 yards and a TD on just four carries. Clint Ratkovich also had nine rushes for 35 yards and quarterback Rocky Lombardi added a rushing TD on their second possession of the game.
NIU went down 7-0 early on but their defense was able to hold the Falcons from scoring another TD until the fourth quarter, as BGSU had to rely on four field goals to get points from the middle of the first quarter until the middle of the fourth quarter.
The Huskies have typically struggled in that middle part of the game, entering the day being out-scored 122-70 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. However, they flipped the script against the Falcons and out-scored BG 31-9 in those two frames, which then allowed the Huskies to just run out the clock in the final 15 minutes.
The Falcons were able to move the ball against NIU’s defense, as they out-gained the Huskies 396-357, but seven penalties hindered Bowling Green on the day. The Falcons had a chance late but they came up just short on their final possession, getting to midfield before tossing the ball short, for a 4-yard gain on the final play, instead of attempting a Hail Mary.
Falcon QB Matt McDonald used both his arm and his legs for BG, as he finished the game with 235 passing yards (albeit going just 16/41) and led the team with 75 rushing yards on six attempts (which included a massive 49-yard carry).
Defensively Davon Ferguson had a heck of game, netting 17 total tackles (10 solo) and a TFL. He was one of two BG players with 10+ stops on the day, with Darren Anders finishing with 12 stops (7 solo) and a TFL. For the Huskies, only one player hit double digits in stops, Dillon Thomas, who had 10 tackles (5 solo) and .5 TFL.
Next week Bowling Green heads north to Ypsilanti, Michigan to take on the EMU Eagles. The Huskies will head to Michigan as well, when they take on the CMU Chippewas next Saturday as they look to get to 4-0 in the MAC...however, the Chips have been kryptonite for the Huskies and have found a way to ruin many of their would-be perfect seasons over the past decade or so.