The Northern Illinois University football team (9-2, 6-1) scored a touchdown with six minutes remaining, and the Huskies forced a turnover with less than two minutes left in the game to defeat the Ohio University Bobcats, 21-14, at Peden Stadium.
The win keeps NIU in the driver’s seat in pursuit of its fifth straight MAC West championship.
Drew Hare hit Chad Beebe for his first touchdown reception of the season, an 18 yard scoring strike that capped an eight-play, 70-yard drive for the winning score. Hare was 4-for-4 passing on the drive with completion of seven, 12 and 17 yards in addition to the scoring pass.
“We made plays when we had to make ’em,” said NIU head coach Rod Carey, who improved to 21-5 as the Huskies’ boss with the win.
“On offense, we didn’t play particularly well. Ohio had a good (defensive) game plan. They took away everything we wanted to do. We had to make adjustments; I wish we had gotten to them earlier in the game, but when we were able to make them (in the second half), it worked out. I thought the defense played great except for one drive in the first half.”
The Huskies scored on a 32-yard touchdown catch and run by Akeem Daniels from Drew Hare at the 9:35 mark in the third quarter, taking advantage of an Anthony Brooks interception for a 14-7 lead.
“The screen was a great call,” Daniels said. “I saw the backside linebacker coming up the middle, and I tried to sell it with my eyes. The offensive line blocked great in the open and the pass was perfect from Drew. We know with what we’ve done in the league, we’re going to get everyone’s best shot and tonight was no different. I’m just happy to be back and do whatever I can to help the team get to where we want to be.”
However, the Bobcats took advantage of missed tackles and a defensive pass interference penalty, embarking on a seven play, 77 yard drive that ended with a nine yard touchdown pass from Derrius Vick to A.J. Ouellette.
NIU and Ohio played to a 7-7 draw at the half, with the Huskies scoring on a two-yard Cameron Stingily run on the first play of the second quarter, capping a seven-play, 54-yard touchdown drive. The touchdown marked the fifth straight game Stingily rushed for a score, his 11th of the season and 19th of his career. Ohio tied the score on a 12-yard touchdown run by Ouellette on the ensuing Bobcat drive.
NIU won its 14th straight Mid-American Conference road game, dating back to Oct. 1, 2011, when the Huskies fell at Central Michigan,48-41. The Huskie win sets up a day-after-Thanksgiving showdown with Western Michigan that could decide which team faces Bowling Green in the 2014 Marathon MAC Football Championship.
For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.