Huskies down undefeated Toledo

By Thomas Hiley

Football (6-3, 4-1 MAC) prevailed in the Glass Bowl on Tuesday, increasing its current win streak against Toledo (7-1, 4-1 MAC) to six games.

NIU suffered injuries to two of its top offensive players in the win. Senior wide receiver Tommylee Lewis and junior quarterback Drew Hare came out of the game in the second quarter and were unable to return.

Lewis finished the night with 125 yards and a 67-yard touchdown reception, and Hare completed seven of his 13 passes for 145 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Redshirt freshman Ryan Graham took over after the injury to Hare and finished out the remainder of the game. He was able to help the Huskies’ offense get into field goal range twice, cutting the Rockets’ lead to 17-16 at halftime.

Graham unleashed a 38-yard run on the very first play of the Huskies’ first possession in the third quarter, but the drive only resulted in a punt.

“I prepared like I was going to play,” Graham said. “You take deep breaths, you play one play at a time, and you have fun out there.”

Rockets running back Kareem Hunt was the first to score in the second half, running five times in nine plays. The score gave Toledo a 24-16 lead.

Sophomore kicker Christian Hagan kicked a career-long 52-yard field goal in the third quarter, his fourth of the game, to bring the score to 24-19 heading into the final quarter.

Graham made an array of big plays for NIU while down eight points in the fourth quarter. He completed a 16-yard pass to junior wide receiver Kenny Golladay on a 2nd and 7, and made a 13-yard pass to Golladay on a 3rd and 7.

Graham eventually connected with Golladay for a 7-yard, one handed touchdown that brought the Huskies within two points. The team attempted a two-point conversion but failed.

Toledo came back with a 13-play, 41-yard drive that ended with a missed 47-yard field goal attempt.

Junior running back Joel Bouagnon scored another touchdown for NIU, giving the team a 32-27 lead. Senior linebacker Boomer Mays picked off pass on the ensuing drive, drawing the conclusion to the game.

“It’s always a battle with Toledo,” said head coach Rod Carey, according to an NIU Athletics news release. “This feels great. We’re extremely happy. This is a good win. We’re 6-3, and we have another opportunity to play in November.”

Bouagnon ended the contest with 26 rushes for 87 yards and a touchdown, his 15th of the season. Golladay led all receivers in the game, catching eight passes for 128 yards and one touchdown.

Graham finished the game 9-12 for 132 yards and a touchdown in just over two quarters of action. He will remain the starter for NIU as the injury to Hare turned out to be season-ending.

“We had guys step up [when Drew went down],” Carey said. “I said, ‘Next guy up, it’s your turn.’ We put him in there, we let him get the blood flowing in the second quarter and he showed so much poise; it was great.”

The Huskies will remain on the road as they take on Buffalo at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Buffalo, N.Y. NIU beat the Bulls when the teams faced off in 2012, taking home a 45-3 Homecoming victory.