Harnish, Page steal the show for Huskies versus Rockets

By Brian Belford

Holy Toledo.

Those have to be the words spoken by every player on the football field after NIU triumphed in a circus like 63-60 win over the Rockets in Toledo, Ohio Tuesday.

The proverbial blizzard of points can be traced to the phenomenal games had by two players: NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish and Toledo wide receiver Eric Page.

Harnish hasn’t been throwing the ball as often as he did last season, as the Huskies’ offense choose to run the ball and utilize him as a running back out of the shotgun and on play fakes.

That worked again against the Rockets, as Harnish ran for 133 yards on 16 carries.

As nice as those stats were, this time Harnish impressed more with his arm, throwing for six touchdowns and 265 yards.

Harnish single handedly kept the offense driving and the Huskies in the game, threading the needle to his wide receivers on deep routes and in the red zone.

In a game of football telephone, Page had an answer every time the Huskies scored and took the lead.

Whether he was in motion, in the slot or spread out wide, Toledo’s wideout diced up the NIU secondary for 155 yards on nine catches and scored five touchdowns.

The chess match ended, though, when Page dropped what would have been a two point conversion on a critical play late in the game.

From there, Harnish drove the Huskies down the field and threw the winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Perez Ashford.

So what does this victory mean for NIU?

The game was nationally televised on ESPN2 and garnered NIU’s program with a lot of publicity, which should only help the program in the future.

The game also reassured fans that this team is capable of beating a big time opponent on the road and possibly winning the MAC, both of which were in question after a near loss to Buffalo and previous losses to Central Michigan and Kansas.

A win like this will help the team believe in itself and cement everyone’s belief that head coach Dave Doeren has this program on the right track.

Next up on the schedule is Bowling Green, a team NIU hasn’t played since 2008, when it eked out a 16-13 victory.

After that, NIU wraps up its season at home against Ball State and Eastern Michigan.

All three teams are beatable and nowhere near as good as Toledo.

NIU might just finish what it started a year ago, especially after a win like this tonight.