MAC Championship Rapid Reaction: NIU football 51, Bowling Green Falcons 17

Da’Ron Brown (4), redshirt senior wide receiver, jumps to catch a pass during the Dec. 5 MAC Championship game against Bowling Green at Ford Field in Detroit. NIU won, 51-17.

By Frank Gogola

What happened: In a role reversal of the 2013 MAC Championship game, the Huskies (11-2) blew out the Bowling Green Falcons (7-6), 51-17, to capture the 2014 MAC title Friday at Ford Field in Detroit.

How it happened: Redshirt senior safety Dechane Durante recorded an interception on the game’s opening, stalling Bowling Green.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Drew Hare opened the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper.

An interception by redshirt junior cornerback Paris Logan late in the first quarter was turned into a 35-yard field goal by Christian Hagan to push NIU’s lead to 10-0.

The Huskies tacked on another Hagan field goal, this one from 32 yards out, after forcing a turnover on downs near midfield.

The Falcons responded with a 6-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown pass from James Knapke to Gehrig Dieter. Dieter made a nice adjustment in the air to pluck the ball out of the sky and score from 42 yards out.

Capping off a methodical drive, NIU stretched its lead to 20-7 with 0:25 left in the first quarter on a 5-yard throwback pass to the right from Hare to Luke Eakes, redshirt senior tight end. Bowling Green’s Tyler Tate drilled a 46-yard field goal with time expiring to make the score 20-10 at the break.

The Huskies came out firing in the second half, scoring on their first three drives.

Juwan Brescacin, redshirt junior wide receiver, caught a 4-yard touchdown pass, and redshirt senior tailback Cameron Stingily put NIU up 34-10 on a 2-yard touchdown rush midway through the third quarter.

After forcing a second Bowling Green turnover on downs, NIU capped off its ensuing drive with a 32-yard field goal from Hagan to go up 37-10. Hagan finished 3-3 on the day.

Stingily put the Huskies safely ahead, 44-10, with a second 2-yard TD run midway through the fourth quarter.

The Falcons added a garbage-time touchdown when Travis Greene found the end zone from 6 yards out to pull Bowling Green within 44-17 with 5:56 to play.

Jordan Huff capped off the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run in the final minute. The touchdown put NIU ahead 51-17, and the 51 points are a MAC Championship game record.

What it means: The Huskies are MAC Champions for the third time in the last four years. They are 3-2 during their current streak of five-straight season with a MAC title game appearance.

[More than] Three stars

4. Redshirt junior wide receiver Juwan Brescacin: Seven receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown; multiple SportsCenter Top 10-worthy catches

3. Redshirt senior tailback Cameron Stingily: 15 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns

2. Redshirt senior safety Dechane Durante: Two interceptions and five total tackles; first player in the MAC Championship game history to pick off two passes in one game

1. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Drew Hare: 29-49 for 218 yards and two touchdowns; 12 carries for 60 yards and one touchdown

Up next: The Huskies await their bowl destination and opponent over the weekend.