The Falcons stayed within hailing distance of Northern Illinois for a while, but eventually the Huskies pulled away and claimed a 45-14 victory at the Doyt Tuesday night. NIU finished with 623 yards of total offense, while BG had just 90 yards of offense in the second half. Here is a BiG Look at the contest ...
BiG TWITTER POST: NIU's Harnish passes for 294 yards & 2 TDs, runs for 151 yards & a score to lead Huskies to a 45-14 win over BG at the Doyt Tuesday night
BiG OVERVIEW: The Falcons struggled on offense in the second half, finishing with just 90 yards of total offense after posting 244 yards in the first half. But the defense was buried by Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish, who led the Huskies to 623 yards of total offense (an average of 7.8 yards per play) and 45 points. Special teams were OK, but not good enough to give the offense or the defense any help.
BiG PLAY: The play of the game came in the third quarter, with the score still 24-14. BG was still hanging in the game, and the Falcon defense had forced the Huskies to punt on their first two possessions of the half. But on a first-and-10 play from NIU's 21, Akeem Daniels ran a wheel route and got behind the Falcons' Aaron Foster. Chandler Harnish found him wide open along the near sideline, and 79 yards later Northern Illinois had a back-breaking touchdown.
OFFENSIVE BiG MAN: Senior wide receiver Kamar Jorden had another fruitful day, catching eight passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. One score came on an 83-yard pass from junior quarterback Matt Schilz on the first play from scrimmage, and the other came on a 13-yard pass just before halftime. Honorable mention goes to true freshman running back Anthon Samuel, who finished with 73 yards rushing on 12 carries while adding seven pass receptions for 50 yards.
DEFENSIVE BiG MAN: Let's give this week's nod to junior linebacker Dwayne Woods, who finished with a game-high 12 tackles, including one for loss. Honorable mention goes to freshman safety Ryland Ward, who had nine tackles; sophomore safety Aaron Foster, who had eight tackles; and redshirt freshman linebacker D.J. Lynch, who had six tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS BiG MAN: Sophomore punter Brian Schmiedebusch continued his All-MAC caliber season, averaging 46.6 yards on his seven punts. Schmiedebusch had a 73-yard punt, his second-longest this season (his longest was an 81-yarder at Idaho), and he had one punt land inside the 20. His net yards per punt was a strong 44.9 yards per kick -- by comparison, NIU netted just 35.0 yards per punt. Honorable mention goes to sophomore rover BooBoo Gates, who had 186 yards on eight kickoff returns, with a 58-yard return for his longest.
BiG NUMBERS: The number that jumps out at me is Northern Illinois garnering 623 yards of total offense, especially the 340 yards passing. I don't keep track of "yards after the catch," but I would guess that number would be astounding for the Huskies. I don't think many people expected the Falcons to shut NIU down, but 623 yards is hard to swallow. And the dominant performance by the Huskies' offensive line was a key component in the success Northern Illinois had offensively.
BiG QUESTION: How do the Falcons finish the season? This loss ruins whatever chances the Falcons had of advancing to a bowl game or earning a berth in the MAC Championship game. In fact, BG needs to win its final two contests just to finish with a .500 record. Are the Falcons competitive in those final two games, or do they pack it up like they did last season? That's a question only the players can answer.