Northern Illinois University jumped out to a 21-5 halftime lead and survived a furious comeback to pull out a 48-34 win Saturday over the Rebels at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Da’Ron Brown hauled in a 54-yard pass from Drew Hare with 8:55 left in the game to put the Huskies back in control after UNLV tied the score at 34. After a Marlon Moore interception prevented a tying UNLV score, the running of Cameron Stingily (17 carries, 102 yards, 2 TDs) sealed the victory.
In all, the Huskies amassed 618 yards of total offense, as Hare was 18-for-28 with three touchdowns passing in addition to 14 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown on the ground.NIU had 333 yards rushing on the day.
“We knew it was going to be a four-quarter battle,” said NIU head coach Rod Carey. “I’m proud of our guys. They fought through adversity. Give [UNLV] credit, they fought back and played a heck of a third-quarter. Give us credit, we made plays when we had to.”
NIU scored on its first two possessions of the second half when Hare scampered for 12 yards to make the score 28-5. Then, following a UNLV touchdown, Tyler Wedel capped a 47-yard drive with a 45-yard field goal to make the score 31-12.
With the score 31-12, UNLV capitalized on NIU miscues and penalties in putting together a 22-3 run.
The Rebels started the scoring with a 35-yard field goal after an eight play, 50-yard opening drive, but the Huskies answered with a 76 yard drive of their own that finished with a five-yard touchdown run by Stingily to make the score 7-3.
After a Huskie personal foul in the endzone resulted in a UNLV safety, tightening the score at 7-5, NIU went to work in the second quarter.
Keith Harris Jr. keyed a 14-play, 80-yard drive with 25 of his 65 rushing yards on the day, and Hare hit Harris for a 12-yard touchdown pass to make the score 14-5. Then, shortly before the end of the half, Hare completed four of five passes and ran for 15 yards on a 10 play, 80-yard touchdown drive capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Hare to Juwan Brescacin to make the score 21-5.
“I think [UNLV’s Davis] is as good as there is in the country at wide receiver,” Carey said. “He and Paris had been going at it all night and [Davis] had probably been getting the better of him for the most part. But then, there’s Paris. He made a great tip and Marlon made a great catch. Give our kids credit, they were focused when they need to be.”