Senior quarterback Jordan Lynch (Chicago, Ill./Mt. Carmel) had four touchdown passes, one touchdown run and one touchdown reception as 18th-ranked Northern Illinois University defeated Eastern Michigan, 59-20, on Saturday afternoon at Huskie Stadium.
With the victory, NIU improves to 8-0, 4-0 in Mid-American Conference play, and won its 24th consecutive game at Huskie Stadium. The Huskies won their 21st consecutive game versus a MAC opponent and NIU’s 8-0 start is the program’s best since 1965. Eastern Michigan falls to 1-7, 0-4 in the MAC.
“I’m really happy with the win, happy with the way we started both halves we came out quick and I was looking for that,” said NIU head coach Rod Carey. “It’s not about the points, it’s not about how it looked like. It’s how you did those little things to create points and that’s what I was interested in seeing today and I saw it. We challenged ourselves for 60 minutes. I was really happy with the 60 minutes of football that we played today.”
Lynch finished the contest 16-of-20 passing for 223 yards and four scores; he had 18 carries for 99 yards and a score, and also caught one pass for 17 yards and a touchdown. Lynch became just the second player in FBS in the last 10 years with four passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown, joining Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor.
NIU struck first, marching 82 yards in 13 plays on its opening drive of the game to take a 7-0 lead. Lynch connected with junior running back James Spencer (Fremont, Ohio/Ross) on a 27-yard swing pass on the drive before hitting junior wide receiver Da’Ron Brown (Chicago, Ill./Morgan Park) from five yards out for the opening score of the game.
Brown finished with three catches for 38 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
After an Eastern Michigan punt, it took NIU just three plays and 38 seconds to go 80 yards and double its lead to 14-0. Junior wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (Riviera Beach, Fla./W.T. Dwyer) went 54 yards on an end-around on the first play of the drive and Lynch found freshman running back Joel Bouagnon (Aurora, Ill./Aurora Christian) for a 10-yard touchdown pass to cap the drive.
The Huskies made it three-for-three with another touchdown on their third drive. Lynch went 30 yards down the sideline for the score as NIU took a 21-0 lead with 4:31 to play in the first quarter.
Eastern Michigan got on the board with a 25-yard field goal from Dylan Mulder with 1:01 to play in the first quarter.
NIU increased its lead to 28-3 as Lynch was in the receiving end of a 17-yard touchdown from Lewis. Lynch handed the ball to Lewis in the backfield before running a pass pattern, Lewis found him down the left side and Lynch leaped over Eagle defenders for the score. It was the first reception of his career and Lewis’ first career pass attempt and completion.
Lynch returned to his typical role throwing touchdown passes as he found sophomore wide receiver Juwan Brescacin (Mississauga, Ont., Canada/Culver Academy) with 2:08 to play in the first half to give the Huskies a 35-3 advantage.
NIU got the ball back with 20 seconds left in the half and quickly went 57 yards to pick up a field goal on the final play of the half. Lynch connected with Lewis for passes of 16 and 41 yards to set up a 28-yard field goal by Huskie kicker Mathew Sims (Hannibal, Mo./Hannibal HS).
Lewis finished the day with eight catches for a career-high 107 yards as he recorded the first 100-yard receiving day by a Huskie this season and his first career 100-yard game; he also had four carries for 81 yards.
Eastern Michigan made a 32-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half but NIU answered with a 28-yard touchdown from Lynch to Brown, giving the Huskies a 45-6 lead with 8:11 to play in the third quarter and finishing Lynch’s day.
The Huskies and Eagles then traded touchdowns. Eastern Michigan found the end zone for the first time as Tyler Benz threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Tyreese Russell. NIU responded as sophomore Matt McIntosh (Evansville, Ind./Reitz) hooked up with freshman Matt Williams (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) for 36 yards and a score, giving NIU a 52-13 lead with just under five minutes left in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, freshman quarterback Drew Hare (O’Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt West) became the fourth Huskie to throw a touchdown pass at he found junior fullback Ricky Connors (Powder Springs, Ga./Harrison) in the end zone from 11 yards out.
A total of 10 Huskies caught at least one pass in the contest, with six different players recording a touchdown catch.
The Eagles closed the scoring with a five-yard touchdown run by Ryan Brumfield with 4:11 left in the contest.
NIU will return to action next Saturday, Nov. 2, when the Huskies travel to meet UMass in Foxborough, Mass. Game time against the Minutemen is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT, and will be televised live on ESPN Regional, ESPN3 and ESPN GamePlan.