Lynch goes out with record-setting performance

By Frank Gogola

Redshirt senior quarterback Jordan Lynch left the field at Huskie Stadium for the final time Nov. 26 to a standing ovation and well-deserved chants of “Heisman.”

Playing in front of the Huskie faithful for the last time, Lynch went out in style with a Heisman-worthy performance. The Mt. Carmel product rewrote the record books as he rushed for 321 yards in the 33-14 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos (1-11, 1-7 MAC) Tuesday at Huskie Stadium.

Lynch’s 321 rushing yards are the most ever by a FBS quarterback in a single game. He set a then-personal high and the then-FBS rushing record by a quarterback with 316 rushing yards on Oct. 19 at Central Michigan.

It took Lynch 32 carries to set that record, but he was more efficient against the Broncos. He rushed for 321 yards and three touchdowns on only 27 carries, averaging 11.9 yards per carry.

“Jordan Lynch, I think, is the best player in college football,” said Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck. “I really believe that. That’s no disrespect to anyone else. … The reason why I say that is he makes every single guy around him better. He is Northern Illinois. And he’s what Northern Illinois’ about.

“He deserves it [the Heisman trophy], because with all the pressure and all the people saying this and saying that, he continues to perform. … He’s the best football player, because he does everything, and he does everything at an elite level. … I think that’s what the Heisman Trophy’s all about: Finding the best player in the country, and finding the player that makes every single person around him better. … This kid is very very special.”

The redshirt senior quarterback, playing in final home game, reached exactly 200 rushing yards as he rumbled into the end zone from 36 yards out. The touchdown was his second rushing touchdown of the first half and put the Huskies up 20-7 with 7:31 to play in the first half. With the touchdown, Lynch reached the 200-rushing-yard plateau for the third time in his career and the second time this season.

With Lynch’s first rushing touchdown nearly two minutes beforehand, he broke the NIU record for most touchdowns responsible for in a career. It was his 93rd career touchdown responsible for, which broke former quarterback Chandler Harnish’s record of 92.

In the first half, Lynch also eclipsed 4,000 career yards rushing. He became the fifth quarterback in FBS history with 4,000 career rushing yards and 5,000 career passing yards, and he accomplished the feat in the fewest number of starts.

Lynch finished the first half with 17 carries for 229 rushing yards (13.5 yards per carry) and two rushing touchdowns.

After rushing for 92 yards and a touchdown in the second half, Lynch finished his final home game with 321 rushing yards, the fourth-highest rushing total in a single game by any NIU player, and three rushing touchdown. He recorded his second career 300-yard rushing game, both of them having come this season, and he became only the second player in NIU history to rush for 300-or-more yards twice in the same season, joining running back LeShon Johnson, who accomplished the feat during the 1993 season.

“If he’s not in the Heisman conversation,” said NIU head coach Rod Carey. “I guess I don’t know what a Heisman [candidate] is or should be. To me, that’s exactly what it is: What you saw tonight.”

With the howling winds and cold weather, the Huskies refrained from throwing the ball, but Lynch still managed five completions – to five different wide receivers – and one passing touchdown.

He left the field for the final time at Huskie Stadium with the crowd on its feet watching one of the most decorated Huskies of all time walk off the home turf for the last time.

“It was great,” Lynch said. “Emotions were high. [I] got kinda a good standing ovation there, and it was awesome. Last time playing there, a lot of great memories there. We’ve still gotta finish it [the season] off the right way.”