Following a not-so-stellar Homecoming performance against Akron last weekend, football (7-0, 3-0 MAC) laid a 38-17 beatdown on the Central Michigan Chippewas (3-5, 2-2 MAC) Saturday in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
The Huskies trailed 14-7 at the end of the first quarter but outscored the Chippewas 31-3 in the final three quarters. With the victory, the Huskies extended their MAC winning streak to 20 games and their road winning streak to 13 games.
Redshirt senior quarterback Jordan Lynch set the football bowl subdivision single-game rushing record by a quarterback with 316 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. He went 20-of-30 through the air for 155 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
“With all the weapons we have — Jordan [Lynch], Cameron Stingily, Da’Ron Brown and Tommylee [Lewis] and our tight ends — each defense plays us a little differently,” said head coach Rod Carey in a news release. “Defenses have to make a choice and then we take what they are giving you.”
After three combined punts, the Chippewas started the scoring as quarterback Cooper Rush connected with wide receiver Titus Davis on a 9-yard touchdown strike that gave CMU a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
The Huskies responded as they marched 75 yards down the field on 11 plays. Lynch found junior wide receiver Tommylee Lewis for a 9-yard touchdown pass on a bubble screen to tie the game, 7-7. With the touchdown pass, Lynch extended his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 20 games.
The Chippewas stormed back and retook the lead as wide receiver Andrew Flory beat sophomore cornerback Marlon Moore and hauled in a 34-yard touchdown reception to cap off a five-play, 65-yard drive with 13 seconds left in the first quarter.
After exchanging punts, the Huskies turned the ball over on downs inside CMU’s red zone as redshirt junior running back Cameron Stingily, on his first carry of the game, came up short on fourth and one.
The Huskies took the ball right back as senior cornerback Jhony Faustin intercepted a tipped Rush pass in CMU territory. Four plays and 26 yards later the Huskies converted the turnover into points as Lynch lowered his shoulder and rushed into the end zone from 5 yards out to tie game, 14-14.
On the ensuing drive, redshirt junior safety Dechane Durante laid a huge hit on wide receiver Jerry Harris, forcing a fumble that senior safety Jimmie Ward recovered. The Huskies were in a position to add more points before the half, but Lynch was picked off by linebacker Justin Cherocci with less than one minute until the half.
After forcing CMU into a three and out to open the second half, NIU drove 63 yards in nine plays and junior punter/kicker Tyler Wedel gave the Huskies their first lead of the day, 17-14, with a 34-yard field goal.
After forcing another CMU punt, the Huskies drove 85 yards, highlighted by a 40-yard run by Lynch, and Lynch punched the ball into the end zone, from 1 yard out, for the second time, which increased NIU’s lead to 24-14.
CMU responded and posted its first points of the second half with a 37-yard field goal by Ron Coluzzi to open the fourth quarter, which cut NIU’s lead to 24-17.
The teams then exchanged punts, and Lynch opened the Huskies’ next drive with a 40-yard run. Five plays and 37 yards later Lynch rushed into the end zone for the third time on the afternoon, this time from 3 yards out.
After forcing CMU into another three and out, the Huskies added more style points as Stingily ended the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown run with 1:32 to play.
Saturday’s 38-17 win was NIU’s first victory at Central Michigan since 2005.