- Associated Press - Saturday, September 6, 2014

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) - Before Saturday, Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey couldn’t settle on a quarterback. But now the decision may have been made for him.

“We’ve got three good quarterbacks,” Carey said. “It’s a good problem to have; nonetheless, it is a problem.”

It wasn’t much of a problem on Saturday as Drew Hare - the third quarterback the Huskies used - passed for two touchdowns and ran for another to lead NIU to a 23-15 win over in-state rival Northwestern.

He got help from Da’Ron Brown, who hauled in the two TD passes and finished with six receptions for 128 yards.

Hare, who didn’t play until the second half, completed six of 10 passes for 109 yards and had 11 rushes for 31 yards.



“They told us to just be ready at any time,” he said. “I came out and tried to do just what I was coached to do.”

Hare led the Huskies (2-0) to a field goal on the first drive of the second half.

“He came in that first drive and completed a couple of balls and got us down there,” Carey said. “You see the flow of the game and all of a sudden, ‘Drew, you’re staying in.’”

Now the question is whether Hare, a sophomore, will take over the reins as the starter.

“I don’t know,” Carey said. “We’ve got 24 hours to enjoy a victory. We’ll get back, we’ll watch the film and we’ll go forward from there.”

NIU is 5-3 versus Big Ten teams since Sept. 19, 2009. The Huskies also lead the nation with 16 straight road victories (games played in opponents’ stadiums).

Trevor Siemian was 27 for 41 for 268 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Northwestern before leaving the game with an apparent right leg injury after a late hit with 3:15 left in the game.

Northwestern is 0-2 for the first time in coach Pat Fitzgerald’s nine seasons. The Wildcats lost 31-24 to California in their opener last week.

The Wildcats amassed 394 yards of total offense but most of their drives were stalled by mistakes - a dropped pass, a penalty or a sack.

“From an offensive standpoint, the self-inflicted wounds with penalties, that’s inexcusable,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

It was the first meeting between the schools, roughly 70 miles apart, since 2005 when Northwestern posted a 38-37 win in a wild finish. NIU scored with 6 seconds left and could have opted for a tying extra point, but then-coach Joe Novak called for a two-point conversion that failed.

It was the Huskies’ first win in eight meetings between the schools. Northwestern had posted six wins and a tie in the previous seven games.

The Huskies got the ball to start the second half and put together a 10-play, 60-yard drive - the key play being a 25-yard pass to Brown - to set up a 32-yard field goal by Tyler Wedel for a 3-0 lead with 11:55 left in the third quarter.

After showing flashes, the Northwestern offense finally put together a complete drive on its second possession of the second half. Siemian capped a four-play, 60-yard drive with a 19-yard TD pass to wide receiver Kyle Prater for a 7-3 lead with 4:51 remaining in the third. All four plays were completed passes and the drive took just 58 seconds.

NIU, though, answered with a 13-play, 82-yard drive capped by an 18-yard scoring pass from Hare to Brown for a 10-7 Huskies lead with 52 seconds to play in the quarter.

The Huskies stretched the lead to 16-7 (the extra point failed) when Hare and Brown hooked up again, this time on a 59-yard scoring pass with 7 minutes to go in the game.

On the next NIU possession, Hare scored on a 4-yard run to make it 23-7.

Northwestern scored late as backup Zack Oliver connected with Pierre Youngblood-Ary on a 54-yard pass with 2:34 to play.

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