Toledo can't solve N. Illinois again in 35-17 loss
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP)
The Huskies' quarterback continued his mastery over the Rockets, running for three touchdowns and 161 yards in a 35-17 victory over the Rockets on Wednesday night.
It was the fourth straight win for the Huskies over the Rockets, who have dominated just about everyone else in the Mid-American Conference.
Toledo, with a win, would have been in good shape to make its first MAC championship game since 2004.
The Rockets (7-4, 5-2 MAC) shut down Lynch in the first half, holding him to 30 yards on the ground. But he took over after that, scoring twice in the third quarter and leading the Huskies on a 99-yard drive that sealed the game.
''He's a special player. He's elusive, he makes plays, he's strong,'' Toledo coach Matt Campbell said. ''He doesn't wear down. I think that's the difference right now between him and us. He never wore down in the game and we did.''
Still, it was a better defensive effort than in the past three meetings with the Huskies in which the Rockets gave up an average of 53 points.
Toledo hurt itself with three turnovers in the first half.
The Huskies struck first just over a minute into the game after recovering Terrance Owens' fumble at the Toledo 21-yard line on the first play from scrimmage. That set up James Spencer's 19-yard touchdown run.
Jimmie Ward later intercepted Owens' first pass attempt.
''You can't turn the ball over and you have to be able to play defense in the second half,'' Campbell said.
Owens rebounded, tossing a pair of touchdown passes. He was 17 of 29 for 235 yards passing.
Northern Illinois (11-0, 7-0) will go to its fourth consecutive trip to the conference title game after extending its 24-game MAC winning streak.
The Rockets' leading rusher, David Fluellen, started after missing the past two games with what the team has called a lower leg injury, but he was held to 54 yards on 15 carries - far below his 133-yard average.
Kareem Hunt, who has filled in for Fluellen, ran for 91 yards on 19 carries.
Toledo led 10-7 at the half after Owens found a wide open Alonzo Russell along the right sideline for a 45-yard touchdown, putting Toledo ahead.
The Huskies drove 85 yards on the opening possession of the second half to take back the lead 14-10, scoring on a 12-yard run by Lynch, his first of the game.
Owens came back with a 36-yard touchdown to Bernard Reedy, who stretched out to make the catch in the back of the end zone, pulling the Rockets ahead 17-14 midway in the third quarter.