Lynch leads NIU past CMU in second half

Head coach Dan Enos is just fine with never having to face Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch again.

Who can blame him after the senior rushed for 316 yards – a FBS record for a quarterback – and also passed for 155 yards to lead his team to a 38-17 win on Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium?

“Jordan Lynch is outstanding,” Enos said. “But the offensive line and tight ends did a good job.”

Northern Illinois’ lead widened, as the holes for Lynch to run through did the same.

The Huskies took the lead for the first time in the game at the start of the third quarter with a field goal, making it 17-14. Then Lynch, who had 232 rushing yards in the second half, contributed to a drive that extended their lead to 10 with a 40 yard carry and a one yard run into the end zone with 3:22 left in the third quarter.

He was not done, as he ran another 40 yards on the first play of NIU’s drive in the middle of the fourth quarter and then he followed his blockers to score a three yard touchdown to extend the lead to 31-17.

“He’s a tough guy. He’s a competitor,” said senior safety Avery Cunningham. “He has a certain drive to him, so that’s going to help him out.”

CMU, looking to tie the game prior to that drive, moved to midfield, but redshirt freshman quarterback Cooper Rush was sacked for a loss of nine on third and seven.

Rush completed 16 of 32 passes for 271 yards. He had his best quarter in the first with two touchdown passes and eight completions out of 11 throws for 146 yards.

“They played a lot more cover two and were really trying to force us to run the football because we had gotten some big plays in the pass game,” Enos said. “And we weren’t getting any explosive runs.”

Only against Michigan, did the running game do worse than it did against the Huskies, tallying 75 yards with sophomore Saylor Lavallii leading the running backs with 58 yards.

In the first quarter, the CMU defense looked like it was going to keep Lynch somewhat under wraps. Anybody would be happy to see him punt as he did in NIU’s first drive.

The Huskies scored its second touchdown to tie it at 14 by the middle of the second quarter after Rush put the defense in a bad spot, throwing a pick to give them the ball at CMU’s 26 yard line.

Senior receiver Jerry Harris was responsible for a fumble after catching a pass that would have been enough to convert a fourth and four in NIU territory when the score was tied at 14 in the second.

“Against good teams, you can’t have missed opportunities and we missed one right there with that,” Enos said. “Great throw and he caught it. You've got to give their safety credit. He made a great hit.”

Contact Jeff Papworth: Follow him on Twitter @JeffPapworth.


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