BUFFALO, N.Y. — As usual, Northern Illinois beat Buffalo, but this one was a nail-biter.
Down by 21 points, the Bulls scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to cut the deficit to one point following a touchdown pass from quarterback Chazz Anderson to Ed Young with 14 seconds left in regulation. But Buffalo kicker Peter Fardon's point-after attempt was wide left and the Huskies could breathe a sigh of relief with a 31-30 victory.
"I was pretty disappointed with the way we finished," Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren said. "We've got to learn how to close games."
Closing games against Buffalo had never been a problem for NIU (5-3, 3-1 MAC), which has won seven in a row against the Bulls (2-6, 1-3). Before Saturday's drama, the Huskies had beaten Buffalo by margins of 17, 24, 63, 31, 18 and 34.
"When it came down to that final point, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good," NIU linebacker Pat Schiller said. "We were lucky right there."
Jasmin Hopkins scored three rushing touchdowns for NIU. The Huskies entered the conference game ranked fourth in the nation in total offense, and averaged 39.8 points per game. But they struggled moving the ball against the Bulls.
NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish, who totaled 432 total yards in last week's 51-22 win over Western Michigan, finished with 150 yards passing, 67 yards rushing and one touchdown.
While the offense was sluggish, the defense did its part, forcing five turnovers. Buffalo lost three fumbles and Anderson threw two interceptions.
Anderson made up for some of his mistakes by directing the Bulls to three fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Anderson set up the last-minute dramatics with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Alex Neutz and a 15-yard scoring toss to Marcus Rivers before hitting Young for his third touchdown of the game.
Anderson torched the Huskies with 35-for-53 passing for 404 yards and scored on a 3-yard touchdown run. The Bulls outgained the Huskies 572-328, with Neutz catching nine passes for 135 yards and one touchdown. Rivers hauled in 10 receptions for 114 yards and one touchdown.
"(Buffalo) had two of the best players I've seen all year with that running back and quarterback," NIU linebacker Pat Schiller said. "They were phenomenal players, they were able to fight back from the deficit.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun