Huskies dogfight for victory over Ball State

By Brian Earle

In a game that may have decided the MAC West Champion, football bested Ball State, 48-27, in a dogfight until the end Wednesday night at Huskie Stadium.

With the win, the Huskies took sole possession of first place in the MAC West and increased their winning streak at Huskie Stadium to 25 games and their nation-leading conference winning streak to 23 games. At the end of the third quarter, the Huskies (10-0, 6-0 MAC) and the Cardinals (9-2, 6-1 MAC) were deadlocked at 27-27. From there on out it was all Huskies.

The Huskies dominated the fourth quarter, finding the end zone on three occasions. NIU out-scored the Cardinals 21-0 in the final period.

“We had a good game,” said coach Rod Carey. “We have a lot of respect for Ball State in all three phases. They were well-coached, they are a good team, and it took all four quarters to beat them.”

Quarterback Jordan Lynch connected with wide out Da’Ron Brown for a go-ahead 36-yard touchdown pass and then put an exclamation point on the game when he ran into the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown with 2:21 left in the game.

Brown had himself a career day, catching eight passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns, while Lynch added to his Heisman resume with 345 passing yards and two passing touchdowns as well as 123 yards on the ground and two more touchdowns.

“… If Jordan isn’t in the conversation for the Heisman, I don’t know what people are watching,” Carey said. “They obviously were asleep. In my estimation, that trophy goes to the best player in the nation, OK. Well, with the performance that he had tonight, and he had help, believe me we had a lot of good plays out there from everybody. But from the performance he had tonight, he dang sure should be in that conversation.”

Defensive end Joe Windsor put a cap on the game when he picked off quarterback Keith Wenning and ran it back for a 49-yard touchdown.

This game was tougher for the Huskies than the final score would indicate, as Ball State seemed in control throughout the first half. Kicker Mathew Sims opened the scoring for both teams with a 32-yard field goal to give the Huskies a 3-0 lead. Wenning marched the Cardinals right down the field on the next drive and threw a 3-yard strike to wide out Willie Snead to take a 7-3 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the teams scored on six consecutive possessions between them. Lynch ran into the end zone from 2 yards out while Wenning did a quarterback sneak into the end zone from 1 yard out.

Sims hit a 20-yard field goal to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 14-13, and then running back Jahwan Edwards answered with a 5-yard touchdown run to take a 21-13 lead with 1:28 to play in the first half.

On the Huskies’ first play of their next drive, Lynch and Brown hooked up for a 58-yard touchdown pass, which had a huge affect on the momentum of the game.

Kicker Scott Secor drilled a 43-yard field goal just before the half to give the Cardinals a 24-20 lead going into the half.