Quarterback Jordan Lynch scored three rushing touchdowns in the first quarter and the No. 17 (BCS) Northern Illinois University Huskies scored touchdown on its first five possessions en route to a 63-19 victory Saturday over the University of Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
NIU kept its perfect (9-0) record intact and improved to 5-0 versus Mid-American Conference foes on the season; the Huskies have won 22 straight games over MAC opponents.
NIU also improved to 6-0 on the road in 2013; the Huskies have more road game victories than any other FBS team in the country. The Huskies won for the 22nd time in their last 23 games.
“It was a good win,” said NIU head coach Rod Carey. “We started right and kept our foot on the game for the first half. Anytime you have that productivity, you’ve got to be happy.”
Lynch, who put on a baseball cap and watched most of the third and fourth quarters from the sideline after scoring his fourth rushing touchdown of the game on an 11-yard run with 10:21 to play in the third, accounted for five scores on the day, including a career-high four rushing touchdowns. He scored on runs of six, 25 and 19 yards in the first quarter as the Huskies jumped out to a 21-6 lead.
Lynch carried the ball 17 times on the day for 119 yards to record his 18th career 100-yard rushing game. Through the air, he completed 10-of-13 passes for 160 yards and threw a season-long 66-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Brescacin that increased the NIU lead to 35-13 with 9:33 to play in the second quarter.
Cameron Stingily added a six-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter and Tommylee Lewis scored on a 15-yard run as the Huskies totaled seven rushing scores and 354 rushing yards in the game. Stingily’s touchdown run was set up by an interception by defensive tackle Ken Bishop, who read the screen play, intercepted the UMass pass at the 20 and ran 14 yards to the six-yard line.
The Huskie defense followed its bend but don’t break trend, as UMass scored just one touchdown – on a one-yard run by Lorenzo Woodley in the second quarter. Minutemen kicker Brendon Levengood made four field goals of 40 yards or longer to account for UM’s other 12 points.
NIU had a field goal blocked and twice turned the ball over on fumbles in the third quarter, but got back on track in the final period as back-up quarterback Drew Hare led the Huskies to a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Hare connected with true freshman running back Chad Beebe on an 81-yard pass play, the longest pass play by a Huskie quarterback since Aug. 30, 2008, when Chandler Harnish completed a 91-yard pass to Nathan Palmer versus Minnesota. The long TD pass made the score 56-19 with 9:02 to play.
Hare completed the scoring with a 47-yard touchdown run with 5:31 left in the game.
“I’m happy for Chad and really happy because of the great blocking by [Aregeros Turner] on that play,” Carey said. “Really pleased with that. This team plays the next play. We have short memories and we’re focused on the next play.”
NIU will enjoy a “mini-bye” while transitioning to a mid-week schedule of MAC games for the remainder of the regular season. The Huskies play host to Ball State in a key MAC West battle Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Huskie Stadium.