NIU (4-6, 3-3 MAC) had a commanding lead over the Rockets, jetting out to a 28-7 lead after three quarters. But a furious fourth quarter comeback by Toledo (6-4, 3-3 MAC) would tie the game at 28 late in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies took a three-point lead on 25-yard field goal by John Richardson with just over 40 seconds to go and the Rockets missed an opportunity for a last-second Hail Mary, giving NIU their second straight win over Toledo.
Toledo scored 21 points in the final quarter in order to pull even with the Huskies, who had capitalized on turnovers and gotten out to 28-7 lead after three quarters.
Ross Bowers threw for a touchdown (a 36-yard pass to Daniel Crawford) and Marcus Childers, NIU’s backup quarterback, rushed for two scores - a 40-yard scamper on fourth down and a 1-yard run late in the third. Tre Harbison added another on the ground and finished the game with 158 yards.
But Toledo quarterback Eli Peters would keep the Rockets in the game, finding Bryce Mitchell twice in a ninety second span - once on a 34-yard pass and once on a 13-yard toss - that pulled Toledo within one score. Ronnie Jones would tie the game up with five minutes to go a 7-yard TD run.
After Richardson put the Huskies up 31-28 with 41 seconds to go, the Rockets had one last chance to win the game. After a 9-yard pass, a 23-yard run, and an 11-yard completion by Peters, Toledo found themselves with the ball at NIU’s 32-yard line.
However, after a completed pass to Shakif Seymore in the middle of the field, the Rockets tried to spike the ball for one last play. Instead, with four seconds to go, they were flagged for a false start when Bryce Mitchell moved early. The penalty came with a ten second runoff which gave NIU the victory.
The Huskies bowl hopes are still alive as they will head home for their final two games. They will need to win both in order to get to a bowl game. Next Tuesday, November 19th, the Huskies will take on EMU.
Toledo is back in action next Wednesday when they travel to New York to take on the Buffalo Bulls.
Total yards: 444 (222 passing, 222 rushing)
Harbison: 32 carries, 158 yards, 1 TD
Childers: 7/9 passing, 71 yards, 3 TD; 5 carries, 57 yards, 2 TDs
Bowers: 15/26, 193 yards, TD
Daniel Crawford: 3 catches, 46 yards, TD
Total yards: 508 (300 passing, 208 rushing)
Seymore: 19 carries, 133 yards; 4 catches, 24 yards
Peters: 26/38 passing, 300 yards, 3 TDs
Mitchell: 6 catches, 125 yards, 2 TDs