Junior quarterback Jordan Lynch (Chicago, Ill./Mt. Carmel) was 13-of-20 passing for 232 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 129 yards and two scores Saturday as Northern Illinois claimed a dominant 45-3 Homecoming victory over Buffalo at Huskie Stadium.
The victory moves NIU to 6-1 overall, 3-0 in Mid-American Conference play, while increasing its Huskie Stadium winning streak to 19 games and winning streak over conference foes to 11. Buffalo falls to 1-5 with the loss, 0-3 in MAC play.
Northern Illinois is also bowl-eligible for the fifth straight year.
NIU received the game’s opening kickoff and methodically went 75 yards in 13 plays, capped by a 12-yard touchdown run from sophomore wide receiver Da’Ron Brown (Chicago, Ill./Morgan Park) on a reverse. Lynch was three-of-four passing on the drive while also picking up 23 yards on five carries.
Buffalo cut the Huskie lead to 7-3 on a Patrick Clarke 28-yard field goal. The Bulls responded to the long NIU drive with a 14-play, 73-yard effort, but they were unable to push it into the end zone, settling for three points.
That opportunity proved to be the only time Buffalo would convert on four trips inside the Huskie 20-yard line. Buffalo went one-for-four in the red zone in the game after coming into the contest 13-of-13. The Bulls missed a field goal and had a pair of passes intercepted by freshman defensive back Marlon Moore inside the 20. Moore’s pickoffs came in the first career start for the true freshman out of Mobile, Ala.
“We knew we had to run the ball and stop the run, and we did that,” said NIU head coach Dave Doeren.
“We knew we had to be better on defense on third down and we were. We knew they were going to throw slants and fades and we contended those balls. We knew there was going to be some throws for Martel; he took advantage of them and Jordan put them on him.”
The Bulls punted on the final play of the first quarter and NIU pushed its lead to 14-3 with an 80-yard drive to begin the second.
Junior running back Akeem Daniels (Kissimmee, Fla./Osceola) scored from a yard out on fourth and goal with 11:07 left in the second to push the NIU lead to 11. The big play on the drive was a 32-yard run by sophomore tight end Luke Eakes (St. Marys, Kan./St. Marys) on a fake punt with the Huskies looking at fourth and seven from their own 40.
Northern Illinois went four-of-five on fourth down in the game and are 11-of-14 on fourth down conversions on the year.
After the NIU defense held Buffalo to a three-and-out, the Huskies made it 21-3 with a four-yard Lynch touchdown run. Lynch gained 21 yards on the ground on the first play of the drive, followed by completions of 13 and 12 yards to sophomore Tommylee Lewis (Riviera Beach, Fla./W.T. Dwyer) and freshman Juwan Brescacin (Mississauga, Ont. Canada/Culver [Ind.] Military Academy), respectively.
Buffalo responded with a drive down to the NIU eight, but the Bulls came up empty as Clarke missed a 25-yard field goal.
The Huskies took advantage quickly, going 80 yards in just four plays and 1:19 to take a 28-3 lead into the half. Lynch ran for 40 yards on the first play of the drive. Following a nine-yard loss, Lynch connected with Eakes for 45 yards through the air to put the Huskies on the Buffalo four. Lynch capped the drive with a four yard run up the middle to give the Huskies a 25-point advantage at the half.
After holding Buffalo to just one first down on its first drive of the second half, NIU needed just one play to push the lead to 35-3. Lynch connected with senior wide receiver Martel Moore (San Antonio, Texas/Earl Warren) up the seam, with Moore carrying a Bull defender the final 12 yards for the score.
Marlon Moore’s first interception stopped the Bulls’ next drive, and after the Huskie offense went three and out, he recorded his second interception, picking off Zordich in the end zone to thwart the Buffalo threat.
With 1:04 left in the third, the Huskies scored again as Lynch hit Lewis on a fade route from 28 yards out. Martel Moore made three catches for 53 yards on the drive. He finished the game with eight receptions for 133 yards to go over the 2,000-yard mark in career receiving yards, becoming just the fifth Huskie player to do so.
“Martel played like a senior today,” Doeren said. “The window’s closing; we’re going to miss the dude. We only have seven more weeks together, if we keep on rolling. I just love when seniors play their best. I think that’s a testament to your coaching and to the development of your program.”
Junior kicker Mathew Sims (Hannibal, Mo./Hannibal) capped the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 42-yard field goal creating the final 42-point margin.
Northern Illinois will return to action Saturday, Oct. 20, when they travel to Akron. Kickoff against the Zips is slated for 11 a.m. CT, and the contest will be televised on the ESPN Regional package.