Sophomore quarterback Drew Hare (O’Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt West) gained 180 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns and threw for 185 yards on 12-of-16 passing with a touchdown Saturday as NIU earned a 51-41 victory over Miami (Ohio) at Huskie Stadium.
The Huskies (5-2, 2-1 MAC) gained 658 yards of total offense and did not punt in the win over the RedHawks (1-7, 1-3 MAC). Senior Cameron Stingily (Romeoville, Ill./Romeoville) gained 133 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown and senior Da’Ron Brown (Chicago, Ill./Morgan Park) had four catches for 128 yards and a score.
NIU picked up big chunks of yardage on the ground versus Miami, averaging nearly 7.9 yard per carry on 55 rushes in the game, but Miami used the passing game to stay within reach to the end. Hare and Stingily became the first Huskie duo to go over 100 yards rushing in the same game since the 2013 contest versus Toledo when Stingily and Lynch accomplished the feat. Five different Huskies scored rushing touchdowns, led by Hare with two.
“We knew it was going to be a four-quarter game,” said NIU Head Coach Rod Carey. “Obviously when you run the ball like we did from the quarterback position, you put yourself in a good position and open things up for the running backs and the passing game. We were moving them [up front] so it was good.”
NIU opened the scoring with a 73-yard touchdown drive, with all eight plays coming on the ground. Hare carried for 43 yards and Stingily picked up 37 on the drive, which was capped by a six-yard touchdown run by freshman Jordan Huff (Mobile, Ala./St. Paul’s Episcopal). The Huskies missed the extra point.
Miami answered with a touchdown to take a 7-6 lead. The RedHawks faced fourth-and-1 at the NIU 30, but converted with a six-yard rush by quarterback Andrew Hendrix. One play later, Hendrix connected with Rokeem Williams on a fade route from 24 yards out for a score.
NIU took the lead right back courtesy of a 28-yard field goal by Tyler Wedel (McFarland, Wis./McFarland) with 4:03 to play in the first quarter and did not trail the rest of the game. The Huskies increased their lead to 16-7 before the end of the first quarter. Hare ran for 24 yards on the first play of the drive to move across midfield and, two plays later, he broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage and went 43 yards for a touchdown.
NIU gained 170 rushing yards in the first quarter, including 113 by Hare, who recorded the first 100-yard rushing game of his career.
Sophomore quarterback Anthony Maddie (Plainfield, Ill./Aurora Christian) came in to open the second quarter and led the Huskies on a 10-play, 60-yard scoring drive. Maddie rushed for 29 yards on three carries and Stingily capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run as NIU pushed its lead to 23-7.
The RedHawks cut the NIU lead to 23-14 with 7:03 to play in the second quarter. Hendrix accounted for 71 yards on the drive, 31 rushing and 40 passing. The 78-yard drive was capped off by a six-yard touchdown run by Dawan Scott.
It took the Huskies just four plays and one minute to answer the RedHawk score as they took a 30-14 lead. Hare found Brown behind the Miami defense for a 61-yard touchdown pass with 5:58 left in the half.
Following a short Miami punt, the Huskies found the end zone again as sophomore Aregeros Turner (Copley, Ohio/Copley) scored from a yard out. The 37-yard drive included an 18-yard halfback pass by Turner to Hare. With the touchdown and PAT, NIU took a 37-14 lead with 2:50 to play.
The RedHawks answered with a touchdown with less than a minute to play in that half.
NIU scored on every possession of the first half, with the exception of taking a knee on the final play before the intermission.
After NIU missed a 46-yard field goal attempt on the first possession of the second half, Miami cut the Huskie lead to 37-28, on a four-yard rushing touchdown by Hendrix that capped an 8-play, 71-yard drive.
A NIU turnover, the only one of the day by either team, gave Miami the ball near midfield, but the Huskie defense forced a three-and-out to give the ball right back to the NIU offense. The Huskies capitalized as a 49-yard run down the sideline by sophomore Joel Bouagnon (Aurora, Ill./Aurora Christian) helped setup a three-yard touchdown run by Maddie on the first play of the fourth quarter as NIU took a 44-28 lead.
Miami struck back quickly, using just six plays to go 78 yards. Hendrix capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run, his second of three on the day. The RedHawks went for two, looking to make it a one-score game, but the conversion pass fell incomplete and the Huskies led 44-34 with 12:36 left.
As they had all day, the NIU offense answered as Hare finished off a 68-yard touchdown drive with a one-yard score. Hare gained 33 yards on four carries on the drive as the Huskies pushed their lead to 51-34 with 8:02 to play.
The RedHawks scored again, but it took 13 plays and 5:23, culminating in a Hendrix two-yard touchdown run with 2:36 left.
Miami attempted an onside kick but senior safety Dechane Durante (Charlotte, N.C./Vance) recovered for the Huskies and NIU was able to run out the clock.
For the first time since September, NIU will be on the road as it travels Saturday, Oct. 25, to Eastern Michigan. Kickoff between the Huskies and Eagles is scheduled for noon CT in Ypsilanti.