NIU football radio announcers Bill Baker and Mark Lindo didn’t realize they were witnessing history Saturday when they began laughing about something the color commentator had said off the air.
Baker revealed that Lindo had predicted the pair would see Huskie QB Jordan Lynch reel off a 50-yard run, and the 49-yard scamper they’d just called had come oh so close.
In the end, those 36 inches didn’t matter.
Lynch eventually tallied 316 yards on the day, spectacular enough to set an NCAA record for most rushing yards by a quarterback. The Heisman Trophy hopeful also added three touchdowns to his permanent record, leading his team to a 38-17 victory over Central Michigan.
“That was a good Central Michigan team we played on their homecoming. They came out with a lot of emotion and played really fine football in the first half. We were lucky enough to be tied at halftime because we matched their emotion and obviously had a chance to maybe have a lead going into half but had a turnover there,” head coach Rod Carey says.
“Obviously Jordan had a big day. I’m really proud of him, proud of our offense,” he adds. “Anytime you do something like that – break a record that’s been around over 20 to 23 years – I think that that’s something that, when time passes, will be even more special for Jordan and the guys who were on the field.”
Lynch and the 7-0 Huskies return Saturday to Huskie Stadium for their third home game of the season. Kickoff versus the Eastern Michigan Eagles is set for 2:30 p.m.
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Carey’s Huskies, ranked at No 21 in the Harris Poll, No. 22 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 23 by the Associated Press, will not let EMU’s 1-6 record reduce their preparation or dampen their motivation to come out charged up.
Meanwhile, the team is well aware of the devastating heartbreak suffered by their opponents.
Eagles wide receiver Demarius Reed, a Chicago native who played at Simeon High School, was murdered Oct. 18 in his apartment near the Ypsilanti campus. His teammates did take the field the next day, losing to Ohio.
“That was an emotional deal for them last week, and my hat’s off to them for how they came out and played the game. I know the result wasn’t what they wanted but, my gosh, to get that news on Friday and then go out and play a game on Saturday. They have our sympathy and our thoughts and prayers,” Carey says.
“We’re going to be getting a good team here with a reason to play and something to point to and things like that and those are all things they are probably going to use and I would if I was them too. They’re a fine football team,” the coach adds. “I know their record doesn’t reflect it, but they run the ball, boy. They can run the ball on offense, and if you can’t stop that run, that’s going to be a long day.”
Last Saturday proved a long day for the Chippewas, obviously.
“I think everybody plays us a little different so you have to kind of see what they are going to give you on that day. So, we didn’t know what they were going to try and take away or what they were going to let us do,” Carey says. “It ended up that we found a way to run the quarterback because that’s what they were going to challenge us to do – and we did it.”
He’s not surprised that other teams haven’t tried to stop the Huskie running attack, which also includes Cameron Stingily, who notched 71 yards last weekend and 266 against Kent State two weeks earlier.
“Am I surprised that they haven’t tried to stop our run more? No, because I think they have tried to. I’m not saying that to be disrespectful. That’s the chess part of it.”
Of course, NIU’s defense is also standing strong this season.
Many of the teams that have fallen to the Huskies this season have achieved little if no offense in the second halves of those games.
The defense has “improved every week,” Carey says, “which is what we’ve asked them to do. They have to keep improving, because it’s not a finished product. An old saying around here is, ‘Success isn’t owned, it’s rented, and the rent is due every day,’ so you have to bring it every day. That’s one thing we’re going to continue to do on defense.”
Carey likes what he sees in the red zone.
“We never like to give up touchdowns. We always like to give up field goals if they do get down there and get a turnover if we can. (Central Michigan) had a pass on fourth down completed, and Duchene comes up and makes a heck of a hit and forces the ball loose and we recover. To me, that’s a big swing. That could be like a 14-point swing,” he says.
“Linebacker-wise, I don’t know who is playing better than Jamaal Bass right now as far as a linebacker. We asked a lot of that kid and he does it. Boomer also has done it on the small little things,” he adds. “Ken Bishop has taken a big step … his preparation has gotten better each week about the details. At this time of year, it’s not about banging anymore. It’s about film prep and technique and staying sharp with that. The whole defensive line in general has done a good job of coming along.”
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