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NIU’s Chandler Harnish runs for 229 yards, throws for 203

Updated: November 17, 2011 9:07AM

DEKALB, Ill. — Perhaps Northern Illinois’ Chandler Harnish took offense to so much talk about Western Michigan’s Alex Carder being the best quarterback, at least statistically, in the Mid-American Conference.

Harnish completed 14 of 27 passes for 203 yards and ran for a career-high 229 yards to lead the Huskies (4-3, 2-1) to a 51-22 homecoming upset Saturday before a Huskie Stadium crowd of 20,277.

Backup quarterback Jordan Lynch also ran for 118 yards, and tailback Jasmin Hopkins rushed for 91 yards and three touchdowns to lead NIU to 697 yards of total offense, including 494 yards rushing.

“[I’m] tired,” Harnish said with a laugh. “My reads were simple, and the holes were wide open.”

Carder completed 25 of 43 passes for 194 yards. But he rushed for only 26 of Western’s 335 yards of total offense.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Broncos coach Bill Cubit said of NIU’s running game. “When they break you, they break you. [Harnish] runs for 229 yards. He’s a great player. But that’s inexcusable.”

NIU coach Dave Doeren couldn’t have asked for a better start to the second half of the season.

“You can’t predict something like that,” Doeren said. “But these guys played well as a team. Our special teams failed us a bit. But our defense kept us in the game, and after halftime, we put it all ­together and became a touchdown team.”

A sloppy performance by the Huskies’ special teams was mainly responsible for the Broncos’ 15-13 halftime lead. A fumbled kickoff return, a muffed punt and a safety set up 12 of Western’s 15 first-half points.

But after trailing 15-3, the ­Huskies scored 44 unanswered points after they realized Western couldn’t stop the run.

“We ran a play toward the end of the second quarter [a 29-yard run by Harnish],” Doeren said, “so I just told our offense at halftime, ‘Run it until they stop it.’”

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