Photo courtesy of Northern Illinois Athletics
NCAA FOOTBALL BOWLS PAGE
(Sports Network) - Chandler Harnish threw two touchdown passes and Northern Illinois shook off a slow start to take down Arkansas State, 38-20, in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Harnish limped off the field early in the second quarter, but backup Jordan Lynch led a scoring drive as the senior recovered.
Lynch's go-ahead touchdown run was part of 31 straight points for the Mid- American Conference-champion Huskies (11-3), who forced five turnovers and finished the season on a nine-game winning streak.
Harnish returned and finished with 274 yards on 18-of-36 passes, while Martel Moore hauled in eight passes for 224 yards and a score in the victory.
Arkansas State (10-3), which ran off nine straight wins to take the Sun Belt Conference, could not overcame its giveaways, three coming on interceptions thrown by Ryan Aplin.
Aplin tossed for 353 yards, hooking up with Taylor Stockemer 11 times for 185 yards and a score, and also ran in a touchdown to give the Red Wolves a 13-0 lead after Brian Davis hit field goals of 32 and 36 yards in the first frame.
But Northern Illinois answered emphatically.
An 11-play, 77-yard drive got the Huskies going, as Perez Ashford's nine-yard touchdown grab got them on the board with one minute remaining in the first.
Mathew Sims missed a 33-yarder early in the second quarter, but Northern Illinois recovered with Lynch at the helm. Lynch completed all four of his attempts on the go-ahead drive and bulled in from three yards out with 4:49 showing.
A roughing the kicker penalty extended a Huskies possession late in the half, and Jamal Womble muscled his way into the end zone for a one-yard TD on the final play before the break for a 21-13 lead.
Harnish threw an interception on the first play of the third quarter, but Jhony Faustin got the ball right back by picking off Aplin.
On the next snap, Harnish and Moore hooked up on a 43-yard score.
Sims missed a 22-yard later in the third, but hit from the same distance early in the fourth.
Stockemer's one-handed, 16-yard touchdown catch gave the Red Wolves life with 11:12 to play, but Dechane Durante stepped in front of an Aplin pass and took it back 36 yards for the game-sealing score with 8:19 remaining.