After a dominating first half, the Duke Blue Devils were able to hang on 36-14 against the Northern Illinois Huskies in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Duke (7-6) rode a 252 yard passing performance by quarterback Daniel Jones to cruise for much of the game Tuesday. Jones also tossed for two pass touchdowns and had a rush touchdown on the night.
Running backs Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown each added a rushing touchdown. Both ran for 116 of the team’s 213 rushing yards, while Jones had 95 yards on his own.
— Quick Lane Bowl (@quicklanebowl) December 27, 2017
The Huskies (8-5) did not have that same luck on the offensive side of the ball.
Quarterback Marcus Childers had early struggles which were hidden by 141 yards of passing and a touchdown in the first half. Despite tying the game in the second quarter at 14, NIU was unable to hold off Duke’s 12 unanswered points to end the half.
Childers finished with 234 yards and only had that one touchdown. He has thrown only a single touchdown pass in each of his past three games.
NIU also struggled heavily in late down situations, which killed its chances to keep its offense on the field. The huskies went 1-for-12 on third down and 0-for-6 on fourth down.
Running back Tre Harbison was able run for one rushing touchdown, but was held to 59 yards by the Blue Devil defense. The whole team was held to 65 yards of rushing for the game.
Notably, NIU’s special teams had multiple mistakes throughout the game that cost them.
NIU tried a fake punt on fourth and 18 with 4:32 left in the first quarter, but punter Matt Ference threw an incomplete pass. His toss set up Wilson’s rushing touchdown and allowed Duke’s momentum to continue.
NIU with a fake punt attempt…. At their own 10 yard line. Wut????? pic.twitter.com/gC9wPZMlkZ
— ’03 Kliff Kingsbury (@fearthe_beard11) December 26, 2017
With 10:50 left in the third quarter, a low snap to holder Josh Orne caused the Huskies to lose possession of the ball on a 39-yard attempt.
North Illinois linebacker Jawuan Johnson forced two fumbles, of which one was recovered for the only turnover of the game.
Duke has now won its last two bowl games in a row, with their last victory coming in the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl over Indiana. They are now 5-8 all-time in bowl games.
NIU has lost its last five bowl games with their defeat. The Huskies now have a 4-8 record in 12 total bowl games, last winning a bowl in 2011.