NIU has 18 TFLs in romp over Ball State
Marcus Childers threw a careerhigh four touchdown passes and Jackson Abresch scored twice on blocked punts to help Northern Illinois beat visiting Ball State 63- 17 on Thursday night in DeKalb.
Sutton Smith, who came in leading the FBS with 20 tackles for losses this season, had two Thursday to set the NIU single- season record. The Huskies ( 7- 3, 5- 1 Mid- American Conference) finished the game with a school- record 18 tackles for loss ( the most in an FBS game this season), including a season- high- tying seven sacks.
“We’re very happy with the win, all three phases executed on a highlevel, and it’s really hard to find fault at different times given the conditions,’’ NIU coach Rod Carey said. ‘‘ It is really hard to find a lot of flaws, so [ I’m] really happy for the guys.”
Childers threw touchdown passes to Shane Wimann and Jordan Huff before Trayshon Foster blocked a punt which Jackson Abresch returned 13 yards for a score to make it 21- 7 at the end of the first quarter.
“When we got the punt block to go up 21- 7, I thought that was a big momentum shift,” Carey said. “I thought we rode that momentum and kept it going.”
Jauan Wesley blocked another Ball State punt, from inside its own end zone, and Abresch covered it to cap the scoring with 4: 18 to play. The Huskies have blocked four punts in their last three games.
“I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates because in both instances, they blocked it and I was in the right spot,” Abresch said. “This is the third week we’ve had a blocked punt, the third week in a row. We knew it was going to be there; it was good execution by the whole unit.”
Drew Plitt, Ball State’s fourthstring quarterback, made his second career start and completed 9 of 14 passes for 89 yards and a score before being replaced by Jack Milas at halftime.
NIU has won nine in a row against the Cardinals ( 2- 8, 0- 6).
It was the most points scored by NIU since a 63- 19 victory over UMass on Nov. 2, 2013.
North Carolina 34, Pittsburgh 31
Anthony Ratliff- Williams returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, threw for another on a trick play and hauled in the eventual go- ahead score midway through the fourth quarter to lift the visiting Tar Heels.
Ratliff- Williams accounted for 230 all- purpose yards for the Tar Heels ( 2- 8, 1- 6 Atlantic Coast Conference), who ended a six- game losing streak by rallying repeatedly against the Panthers. Nathan Elliott completed 20 of 31 passes for 235 yards and two scores in his first start for North Carolina, which beat the Panthers for the fifth straight time thanks to RatliffWilliams’ playmaking.
Darrin Hall ran for 121 yards and four scores for Pitt ( 4- 6, 2- 4), which has games remaining against No. 17 Virginia Tech and No. 7 Miami.
Wisconsin WR done for season
Wisconsin receiver Quintez Cephus will miss the rest of the season because of an injured right leg. He leads the Badgers with 501 receiving yards and six touchdown catches. Wisconsin also remains without senior wideout Jazz Peavy because of a right leg injury. Sophomore A. J. Taylor and freshmen Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor are expected to see most of the action at receiver when the No. 8 Badgers host No. 20 Iowa on Saturday.
UNC receiver Anthony Ratliff- Williams catches the go- ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh. | KEITH SRAKOCIC/ AP