During their three game losing streak to Ohio State, Boston College, and Central Michigan, the Northern Illinois Huskies offense posted a total of 46 points. Turns out the best remedy for a struggling offense is some home cooking.
92 plays, 636 yards, and a 59-41 victory later, the Huskies were able to put to bed any worries about the offense, at least for a week.
Coming off the worst performance of his career, a four turnover outing in Mt. Pleasant, Drew Hare finally returned to the form he showed against UNLV and Murray State. Hare completed 29 of 32 passes for 363 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The first quarter was a familiar story for Northern Illinois. After only mustering 12 yards of offense in the opening frame, the Huskies saw themselves in an early 10-0 hole to Riley Neal and company.
The lead would not last long, however. Hare engineered an 11 play, 82 yard scoring drive capped off by a Kenny Golladay three yard touchdown run. Ball State would respond with a field goal on the following possession, but it only delayed the Northern Illinois onslaught.
62 seconds after Ball State extended the lead to 13-7, Hare hooked up with Desroy Maxwell on a 13 yard scoring strike to give NIU their first lead of the day. On the first play of the following Ball State drive, Shawun Lurry struck once again, intercepting his NCAA leading sixth pass of the season. Three plays later, Joel Bouagnon extended the Huskies' lead to 21-13 with a one yard scoring plunge.
Less than three minutes later, it was Jordan Huff's turn to find the endzone, capping off a 28 point second quarter and giving the Huskies a 15 point lead.
In a game which turned into an unexpected shootout, Riley Neal more than held his own. The impressive true freshman signal caller responded with a three play, 75 yard touchdown drive right before the half to keep his Cardinals in the game.
After a 14 play, 97 yard touchdown drive, culminating with a Drew Hare touchdown run to seemingly put the game away for the Huskies, Neal hooked up with Corey Lacanaria on a touchdown pass to cut the NIU lead to 11. For the day, Neal completed 31 of 53 attempts for 393 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 INTs. The future is certainly bright for Neal and the Ball State offense.
But the Cardinals just could not come up with a stop when they needed it most. Hare responded with a 34 yard scoring strike to Kenny Golladay to extend the lead back to 18. Golladay ended the day with 6 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Bouagnon, who gained 149 yards and scored twice on the day, capped the NIU offensive barrage with a one yard scoring plunge, giving the Huskies their 59th and final point of the day.
Northern Illinois improved to 3-3 (1-1 in the MAC) with the victory and will travel to Miami next week. Ball State fell to 2-4 (1-2 in the MAC) and will welcome Georgia State to Muncie next week.