Sophomore Joel Bouagnon (Aurora, Ill./Aurora Christian) scored four touchdowns Thursday night as NIU opened the season with a 55-3 victory over Presbyterian College at Huskie Stadium. NIU racked up 635 yards of total offense, 424 coming on the ground, as it extended its Huskie Stadium winning streak to a nation-leading 27 games.
The Huskies ran a program-record 109 plays on offense, surpassing its previous-best of 102 versus Ohio on Nov. 7, 1981.
Bouagnon gained 97 yards on 16 carries while senior Akeem Daniels (Kissimmee, Fla./Osceola) rushed for a game-high 118 yards on 15 carries. Eleven different players carried the football for the Huskies.
NIU gained 635 yards of total offense, 424 rushing and 211 passing, while holding Presbyterian to just 127 yards of offensive.
“We came out and did what we were supposed to do,” said NIU Head Coach Rod Carey, whose Huskies recorded the biggest win by the Huskies in a season-opener since 1963. “I wanted to see us play fast and we did, we executed pretty well for the most part. There were some issues when we got some of the younger guys in there but that’s to be expected.”
Presbyterian received the opening kickoff to start the game and picked up a first down before turning the ball over to the Huskies as junior safety Marlon Moore (Mobile, Ala./C.F. Vigor) forced a fumble, that was recovered by junior Paris Logan (Columbia, Mo./Rock Bridge) on the NIU 42-yard line.
NIU took the lead on its first possession, going 58 yards in eight plays in just 1:54, taking a 7-0 lead. On second-and-15, junior quarterback Matt McIntosh (Evansville, Ind./Reitz) connected with senior wide receiver Da’Ron Brown (Chicago, Ill./Morgan Park), who had gotten in behind the Presbyterian secondary, for a 39-yard touchdown reception.
Brown led NIU with seven catches for 91 yards.
After a three-and-out by the Blue Hose, the Huskies added three points with a 32-yard field goal from senior kicker Tyler Wedel (McFarland, Wis./McFarland).
The Huskie defense forced another punt and NIU scored again as Bouagnon found the end zone from just a yard out to increase the NIU lead to 17-0 with 1:12 to play in the first quarter.
Presbyterian opened the second quarter with a punt and it took the Huskies just seven plays and 2:20 to go 69 yards for another score. On a third-and-4, Daniels picked up 29 yards around the left side to put the Huskies in scoring position. Two plays later, Bouagnon scored for the second time as the NIU offensive line opened a big hole up the middle from 23 yards out.
Bouagnon scored a third touchdown from nine yards out, capping a 13-play, 73-yard drive as NIU pushed its lead to 31-0 with 2:30 left in the first half.
NIU forced a quick Presbyterian punt and the Huskies moved into scoring range again as Wedel connected on a 26-yard field goal with three seconds left in the second quarter as NIU took a 34-0 lead into the break.
The Huskies added to their advantage on the opening possession of the second half. Sophomore quarterback Drew Hare (O’Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt West) ran for 25 yards to get NIU across midfield; he then connected with junior wide receiver Juwan Brescacin (Mississauga, Ont., Canada/Culver Academy) on a 49-yard slant for a touchdown as the Huskies lead grew to 41-0.
An interception by freshman cornerback Albert Smalls (Miramar, Fla./Monsignor Pace) gave the ball back to NIU at the Presbyterian 12. Three plays later, Bouagnon found the end zone for the fourth time, scoring from a yard out.
The Huskies forced three turnovers, scoring touchdowns on all three, and NIU did not turn the ball over.
NIU used all three of its new quarterbacks with McIntosh playing the entire first quarter, Hare taking over in the second and Maddie coming in after the first drive of the third quarter.
“Mac (McIntosh) ran the offense just like I expected him to; Drew came in and ran it well,” Carey said. “Anthony was in a different situation with the young guys but I was pleased with all three overall.”
Sophomore Draco Smith (Hammond, Ind./Mt. Carmel) scored on a 10-yard run to give the Huskies a 55-0 lead with 3:55 to play in the third quarter. Smith gained 35 yards on five carries on the drive, which was set up by a fumble recovery by sophomore linebacker Sean Folliard (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge).
Presbyterian got on the scoreboard with a 31-yard field goal by Brandon Morrow just before the end of the third quarter.
NIU will return to action next Saturday, Sept. 6, when the Huskies travel to Evanston to take on Northwestern. Game time against the Wildcats is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.