Northern Illinois University quarterback Jordan Lynch set the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 316 yards on 32 carries leading the No. 23 Huskies (7-0, 3-0 MAC) to a 38-17 Mid-American Conference win over Central Michigan at Kelly/Shorts Stadium Saturday.
Lynch (Chicago, Ill./Mt. Carmel HS) broke the record held by former NIU quarterback Stacey Robinson, who set the previous FBS record Oct. 6, 1990, vs. Fresno State. Robinson rushed for 308 yards in a 73-18 Huskie win over the No. 24-ranked Bulldogs.
The game was tied 14-14 at halftime, but the Huskie defense held the Chippewas to three points and 97 yards in the second half while Lynch ran wild, compiling 232 yards on 18 carries after halftime, including one wearing only one shoe. Lynch scored three rushing touchdowns and passed for another. He threw for 155 yards on 20-of-30 passing to tally 471 yards of total offense in the game.
NIU won its 20th straight game over a Mid-American Conference foe, the longest conference winning streak in the nation, and won its 13th straight road game. Five of the Huskies’ seven wins this year have come on the road.
“You have to run the ball and stop the run,” said NIU head coach Rod Carey. “That’s what we had to have and we did what we wanted to do. I’m so proud of our defense. They got a couple of key sacks in the second half.”
After the teams played to a 14-14 tie in the first half, the Huskies dominated the second half of play on both sides of the ball.
CMU totaled just 75 rushing yards on the day and their 346 yards of total offense was the lowest total by a Huskie opponent this year. NIU forced a pair of turnovers with cornerback Jhony Faustin picking off a first-half pass and recovering a fumble forced by Dechane Durante.
For the fourth time this season, the Huskies’ opponent scored first. CMU quarterback Cooper Rush hit Titus Davis from nine yards out to complete a four-play, 60-yard drive, giving Central Michigan a 7-0 lead with 6:05 to play in the first quarter.
NIU responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 4:00 on the clock. Lynch completed a 12-yard pass to Juwan Brescacin on third and 12 for a big conversion to the CMU 41 and connected with Brescacin on a 25-yard play to the nine-yard line. From there, the quarterback hit Tommylee Lewis on a receiver screen and the junior took it in, giving Lynch a touchdown pass in his 20th consecutive game. Lewis finished the game with a career-high 10 catches and had 54 receiving yards along with 28 rushing.
CMU took a 14-7 lead before the end of the first quarter when Rush connected with Andrew Flory on a 36-yard touchdown play. With 13 seconds to play in the period, Central Michigan led 14-7.
Over the final three quarters, the Huskies outscored CMU 31-3, although they did not tie the score until 8:11 remained in the second quarter. After Central Michigan stopped the Huskies on fourth-and-one from the CMU15, Faustin’s interception two plays later set up the NIU offense on the Chippewas’ 26-yard line.
Lynch and the Huskies overcame an offensive pass interference penalty before Lynch scored his first rushing touchdown of the day on a five-yard run. Tyler Wedel’s extra point tied the score at 14.
Durante and Faustin teamed up to stop the Chippewas’ next drive inside the red zone. On fourth and four from the NIU 33, Rush hit Jerry Harris for 13 yards to the NIU 20, but Durante’s hit forced a fumble which Faustin recovered. The Huskies had a chance to take the lead before halftime, driving to the CMU 15 where Lynch’s pass was tipped and then intercepted.
Northern Illinois took the lead for good on its first possession of the second half with a nine-play, 63-yard drive culminated by a 34-yard field goal by Wedel. Lynch ran for 53 yards on the drive as NIU took its first lead, 17-14, with 11:01 to play in the third quarter.
The Huskies extended the lead to 24-14 on its next possession as the NIU offensive line asserted itself. Lynch scored from one yard out for the 10-point margin with 3:22 left in the third quarter.
“With all the weapons we have – Jordan, Cameron Stingily, Da’Ron Brown and Tommylee and our tight ends, each defense plays us a little differently,” Carey said. “Defenses have to make a choice and then we take what they are giving you.”
Sacks by Boomer Mays and Stephen O’Neal helped stop CMU drives in the next two drives and Lynch scored his final rushing touchdown on a three-yard rush that finished a six-play, 77-yard drive. He had started that drive with a 40-yard rush, one of three runs of 40 or more yards in the game.
The Huskies finished the game, and the scoring, with their longest drive of the day. Holding a two touchdown lead, NIU drove 89 yards in seven plays beginning with 5:11 to play. Stingily, who added 70 rushing yards on 14 carries, scored from 19 yards out for the final margin.
NIU returns to Huskie Stadium to face Eastern Michigan at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. Tickets are available online or by calling (815) 753-PACK (7225).