BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- One week after playing in the highest-scoring regular season game in Mid-American Conference history, Northern Illinois' defense took care of business in the second half to keep wraps on the MAC West Division lead.
Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another score in a 45-14 victory over Bowling Green on Tuesday night.
The Huskies didn't need the offensive fireworks or late-game drama of last week's 63-60 victory over Toledo. In the second half, the NIU defense stepped up and held Bowling Green scoreless and to 90 total yards.
"They have a lot of pride and played hard and that was our best performance of the season tonight, we played four quarters," said NIU coach Dave Doeren of his defense.
The Huskies (7-3, 5-1) won their fourth straight game, including three consecutive on the road, to remain atop the MAC West Division.
Harnish, the leading rusher among quarterbacks in the FBS, had a game-high 151 rushing yards and completed 16-of-26 passes for 294 yards. He lifted his season totals to 1,022 yards rushing and 2,256 yards passing with 20 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
"He made some things happen and moved the chains," Doeren said of Harnish. "He's a stud. He's playing at a high level and he's fun to watch."
The Huskies finished with 623 yards total yards to mark the sixth time in 10 games that they tallied at least 500 yards, and extended their school record with an eighth game this year scoring 40 or more points.
Northern Illinois waited eight years to avenge one of the biggest losses in terms of importance in school history. The last time the two teams met at Doyt L. Perry Stadium was on Oct. 25, 2003, when the No. 23 Falcons defeated the No. 12 Huskies 34-18 with ESPN College GameDay in attendance.
Northern Illinois and Bowling Green started fast, both scoring touchdowns in the first minute of the game.
Bowling Green quarterback Matt Schilz connected with Kamar Jorden with an 83-yard touchdown strike just 21 seconds into the game. But Schilz, who threw for 255 yards, never could get on track against NIU's aggressive defense. Harnish quickly answered with a 56-yard touchdown pass to Willie Clark in a two-play drive to tie the game at 7-7 at the 14:00 minute mark of the opening quarter.
The Huskies scored 24 straight points to take control of the game with a 24-7 lead. The Falcons (4-6, 2-4) entered the game allowing just two teams to score 30 points on them all season. The Huskies reached that total midway through the third quarter, when wide receiver Akeem Daniels, who scored two touchdowns, caught a 79-yard bomb from Harnish to pad NIU's lead to 31-14.
Northern Illinois backup quarterback Jordan Lynch replaced Harnish early in the fourth quarter.
Lynch tossed his first touchdown pass of the season, a 37-yarder to Willie Clark for a 45-14 lead.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times