It all came down to the defense in NIU's 45-42 loss to Kansas Saturday night.
The game was an offensive slugfest for four quarters but the Huskies held the game in their hands with just second remaining. Kansas converted two fourth downs inside the NIU 10-yard line, including a fourth and goal from the NIU 6-yard line.
Quarterback Jordan Webb connected with D.J.Beshears for a score, leaving NIU with just nine seconds to work with. The kickoff was returned 31 yards but Chandler Harnish's last-second pass was deflected as time ran out.
Harnish continued to state an early case for the Vern Smith Award, going 27-of-33 for 315 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He ran 11 times for 89 yards and three touchdowns.
Through two games this season, Harnish has 10 total touchdowns.
The Jayhawks grabbed an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a Jordan Webb touchdown pass to D.J. Beshears.
Chandler Harnish responded by leading the Huskies on an 11-play, 74-yard drive, capping it off with a 7-yard touchdown run. The drive included a fourth and one conversion deep in Kansas territory.
Kansas would miss a field goal attempt, giving NIU and Harnish the ball again. The senior would lead the Huskies down the field again, scoring on another rushing touchdown, this one of the 12-yard variety to go up 14-7.
The Jayhawks struggled again, losing a fumble to Ron Newcomb, setting up another NIU drive. Instead of running one in, Harnish found Martel Moore for an 8-yard touchdown.
Darrien Miller scored on an 18-yard touchdown run to pull Kansas within 21-14 in the second quarter.
On the ensuing driving NIU marched up field again but faced a fourth and six at the Kansas 30-yard line. Harnish found Moore for a 29-yard pass but it was ruled incomplete after replay.
The turnover on downs allowed Webb to find Kale Pick for a 36-yard touchdown pass, capping off a 6-play, 70-yard drive for Kansas.
Chandler Harnish ran for a 26-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. It was his fourth touchdown, third on the ground, for the night.
James Sims scored from eight yards out for the Jayhawks, who traded early scoring drives with the Huskies to open the second half.
Sims scored his second rushing touchdown of the night midway through the third quarter. The score gave Kansas its first lead since going up 7-0 in the first quarter.
Da'Ron Brown grabbed a 10-yard touchdown pass from Chandler Harnish late in the third to knot the game up 35-35. It was Harnish's fifth total touchdown of the game.
Earlier in the drive he connected on a 35-yard pass to Perez Ashford and picked up another 15 via a roughing the passer penalty.
Jasmin Hopkins snuck in from a yard out to give NIU the lead. Chandler Harnish was stuffed on a second and goal, but a Jayhawk personal foul reset the downs for the Huskies.