DEKALB — Anthony Brown threw for two touchdowns in his first career start and Colton Lichtenberg’s 37-yard field goal with 2:13 to play lifted Boston College past Northern Illinois 23-20 in a season opener on Friday night.
Northern Illinois had a chance to tie it in the closing seconds, but Christian Hagan’s 39-yard field-goal attempt hit the crossbar.
Brown was 26-of-42 passing for 191 yards, including a fourth-down toss that kept the game-winning drive alive.
Michael Walker and Ray Marten each had touchdown catches for Boston College, which scuffled on several late drives before putting together the decisive possession.
Ryan Graham threw for 190 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Huskies, who were seeking their fifth straight home win over a Power 5 conference opponent.
Boston College took a 13-10 lead to intermission after Brown connected with Walker in the final minute and the Eagles stretched it to 20-10 before Northern Illinois rallied to tie it early in the fourth quarter.
Boston College’s offense hit its deepest valley early in the second quarter when Jon Baker hiked the ball past Brown, who was looking away when the third-down snap was delivered. Brown raced back to dive on the ball, but the 18-yard loss forced the Eagles to punt.
Boston College: The Eagles next-to-last among FBS teams in total offense last season and had their share of fits and starts on the first night of the new year. The Eagles looked sharp on both touchdown drives but a pair of costly three-and-outs and an illegal-block penalty on another possession stymied them late in the second half and kept the game close.
Games against Notre Dame and national champion Clemson loom later in September.
Northern Illinois: The Huskies have had success in the past with versatile quarterbacks and Graham showed flashes with his arm and feet in his ninth career start. The redshirt junior led all rushers with 99 yards and kept the Huskies’ first touchdown drive alive with a 60-yard keeper.
Boston College: The Eagles, who have dropped their last three Atlantic Coast Conference openers, kick off their conference slate Sept. 9 when Wake Forest visits Chestnut Hill.
Northern Illinois: The Huskies welcome FCS-member Eastern Illinois the same day. Coach Rod Carey is 3-0 against such foes in his five seasons.