Junior Cameron Stingily ran for 266 yards on 37 carries and the Northern Illinois University Huskies totaled 698 yards of total offense, 454 on the ground, to claim a 38-24 victory over Kent State Saturday in its 2013 Mid-American Conference opener.
The Huskies improved to 5-0, 1-0 in the MAC, with the win, while Kent State fell to 2-4, 1-2.
On a rainy Saturday in Ohio, Stingily punished the Golden Flashes, often dragging two and three defenders for extra yardage as he compiled the most yards by a Huskie running back since Garrett Wolfe set the NIU school record with 353 yards versus Ball State on Sept. 30, 2006. Stingily, who was celebrating his 22nd birthday Saturday, said he didn’t think his teammates were serious when they told him his yardage total after the game.
“I just wanted to play hard and I wanted a win for my birthday,” he said. “I didn’t know I was going to touch the ball so many times. I read my keys and just tried to keep going.”
“I’m proud of him,” said NIU head coach Rod Carey. “He kept his pads low and held onto the football. I’m not surprised to see him have a game like this because of the work he’s put in. I’m really happy for Spence [walk-on running back James Spencer] too. He was the next guy in and he was ready to go. He has worked so hard.”
NIU piled up 698 yards of total offense in the game, the third-highest total in school history. The Huskies’ 454 rushing yards were the eighth-most all-time. In addition to Stingily, quarterback Jordan Lynch had 94 yards on 14 carries, while Spencer gained 42 yards on six rushes.
Lynch also completed 21-of-35 passes for 244 yards and two scores while also throwing a pair of interceptions. He accounted for 338 yards of total offense in the game.
After falling behind for the only time all game when Kent State quarterback Colin Reardon hit Tyshon Goode with a 28-yard pass early in the third quarter to put the Flashes ahead 28-24, the Huskies outscored KSU 17-0 the rest of the second half.
Lynch directed NIU on a 10-play, 84-yard drive that took 4:05 off the clock with all but 11 yards coming on the ground. The Huskies took the lead for good on a 22-yard run by Spencer, who came into the game when Keith Harris went to the sidelines in the second quarter with an injury.
The Huskie defense forced Kent State to punt and NIU put together a signature drive.
Starting from the NIU six-yard line and running behind an offensive line opening holes for everyone, Stingily, Lynch and Spencer methodically marched the Huskies downfield. Lynch hit Tommylee Lewis, who led the Huskies with eight catches in the game, for 13 yards on third and 12 to the Kent State six. NIU also overcame a holding penalty from the one before Lynch hit Spencer with a screen pass for the touchdown and an 11-point lead, 35-24.
Kicker Mathew Sims put the final points on the board with a 31-yard field goal with 7:28 to play to cap off a 10-play, 56-yard drive.
Kent State had one more shot and advanced to the NIU 12-yard line. Four passes went incomplete and the Huskie offense took over with 4:17 to play and collected three more first downs rushing to all but run out the clock.
A driving rainstorm limited the scoring early as neither team could generate much offense in the first quarter. NIU took a 7-0- lead on a Stingily 17-yard run, but Kent State’s Dri Archer provided an immediate answer, taking the kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown and a 7-7 tie.
Lynch hit Da’Ron Brown on a 53-yard completion midway through the second quarter to give NIU a 14-7 lead, but KSU answered again as Reardon completed a 66-yard pass to Archer who took it to the end zone for the second tie of the game.
NIU went to the ground game to take a 21-14 lead with Stingily scoring from the one. Kent State earned a field goal to cut the lead to 21-17 at halftime.