NIU rolled Akron Saturday for its seventh straight win, with strong, dominating play on both sides of the ball.
Akron (1-7, 0-4 MAC) had its offense kept in check all game long with the play of the Huskies (7-1, 4-0 MAC), as they held the running game to just 42 yards on 39 carries. They also limited a top five passing offense to just 157 yards.
“The way our team played on defense, to hold them under 200 yards in the game is quite an accomplishment,” said coach Dave Doeren in a press conference. “We have a good defensive front and our linebackers play downhill and when you have a good front seven, you can do some things defensively.”
The win extends numerous streaks for NIU, as its season winning streak rises to seven games, its MAC winning streak goes to 12 and its road winning streak reaches six.
NIU’s offense did not have an easy first half, as the score was 13-7 behind a Martel Moore touchdown and two Mathew Sims field goals. Akron scored their lone tally with just over a minute remaining in the first half, as senior quarterback Dalton Williams hit junior receiver Jerrod Dillard for a four yard touchdown pass. Junior quarterback Jordan Lynch would respond with a touchdown rush of 15 yards with 19 seconds left in the half to put NIU up 20-7.
The second half was much smoother sailing for NIU, as Akron failed to score and NIU put up another Sims field goal and two more touchdowns. One of those touchdowns came from senior tight end Jason Schepler on his first catch of the season. Lynch also ran for another touchdown in the fourth quarter.
With four total touchdowns on the day and 354 total yards, Lynch eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for rushing on the season. He has a combined 26 touchdowns on the season, 13 in the air and 13 on the ground.
“I don’t know if there’s a way for us to beat Northern Illinois right now,” said Akron coach Terry Bowden in a press conference. “They don’t turn the ball over; they have a running attack that wears you down. The quarterback is a phenomenal rusher. I think the defensive scheme started out well, and offensively we couldn’t do a thing, they whipped us out front.”
Defensively, the Huskies edged the Zips in turnovers 3-1, including senior Demetrius Stone’s first career interception and two forced fumbles by Akron transfer Giorgio Bowers and senior defensive end Sean Progar. Progar also posted a sack and two tackles for loss, moving him into seventh place all time at NIU with 33.5 tackles for a loss.
“Biggest thing going into the game was we wanted to stop the run,” Progar said. “They have an explosive back that we took out early in the game. We got them in first and long, second and long, third and long and we let our defensive line rush, which is what we’re good at.”