No. 23 N. Illinois improves to 8-0

Jordan Lynch had asked for three years to try the play.

On Saturday, the quarterback for No. 23 Northern Illinois got

his wish, reversing roles with wideout Tommylee Lewis on a 17-yard

touchdown in the second quarter as the Huskies rolled to a 59-20

victory over Eastern Michigan.

”We practice it every week, we just never called it,” said

Lynch, who threw four touchdown passes. ”It’s fun to do something

like that, to act like a receiver. Anytime you bust out a trick

play it’s fun.”

Lynch took the snap, handed off to Lewis and bolted for the end

zone for his first career touchdown reception as the Huskies opened

a 28-3 lead early in the second quarter.

The Huskies (8-0, 4-0 Mid-American Conference) reached their

best start as a major program with the victory and never trailed on

the way to a season-high in points and second-highest total offense

(658 yards).

The Eagles (1-7, 0-4) lost their seventh straight.

Lynch, the nation’s No. 7 rusher entering Saturday, also ran for

a touchdown while rushing 18 times for 99 yards. He was 16-of-20

passing for 223 yards while tying a career high with the four TD

passes in less than three quarters.

Da’Ron Brown caught three passes for 28 yards and two

scores.

Lewis, meanwhile, had eight catches for 107 yards to go along

with the touchdown pass. He rushed four times for 81 yards,

primarily on successful sweeps.

”All credit goes to our blocking on the outside,” Lewis said.

”They opened up holes and I just ran right through them.”

Eastern Michigan’s Bronson Hill rushed 17 times for a team-high

66 yards while Brogan Roback got the start and was 7-of-17 passing

for 109 yards in his lengthiest outing of the season.

The start is the best since Northern Illinois reached major

college status in 1969. While a College Division team the Huskies

went 10-0 in 1963 and started 9-0 in 1965.

It was the Huskies’ 24th straight home win, the nation’s longest

active streak, and extended their conference-record 21-game MAC

winning streak.

The Huskies had 229 net yards and scored three times in the

opening quarter on the way to a 21-3 lead.

”I’m really happy with the win, happy with the way we started

both halves,” Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey said. ”We came

out quick and I was looking for that. … We challenged ourselves

for 60 minutes. I was really happy with the 60 minutes of football

that we played.”

Northern Illinois marched 82 yards in 13 plays in its opening

drive, taking a 7-0 lead after Lynch’s 5-yard touchdown pass to

Brown.

On their second drive, the Huskies moved 80 yards in three plays

with a 10-yard TD pass to freshman Joel Bouagnon for a 14-0 lead.

Lynch made it 21-0 on a 30-yard touchdown run.

Eastern Michigan then saw a promising drive stall inside the

Northern Illinois 10 and settled for a 25-yard field goal by Dylan

Mulder.

Lynch made it 28-3 with a 17-yard touchdown reception from

Lewis. Then, with 2:08 left in the half, Lynch fired a 16-yard

touchdown strike to Juwa Brescacin as the Huskies opened a 35-3

lead. Matt Sims’ 28-yard field goal just before halftime made it

38-3.

Northern Illinois’ fast start initially left Eastern Michigan

flat-footed.

”I thought they did a good job going out quick, they showed

formations they had not shown and I thought it unnerved our guys a

little bit,” Eagles coach Ron English said.

Eastern Michigan’s opening drive of the second half reached the

Northern Illinois 15 but ended with a 38-yard field goal by

Mulder.

Brown’s second touchdown pass – a 28-yard play with Lynch – made

it 45-6.

The Eagles finally got into the end zone with 6:33 left in the

third when Tyler Benz hit Tyreese Russell on a 9-yard touchdown

pass that made it 45-13.

Redshirt freshman Matt Williams caught his first career

touchdown pass, a 36-yard pass play from backup quarterback Matt

McIntosh, as Northern Illinois opened a 52-13 lead.

Reserve quarterback Matt Hare’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Ricky

Connors made it 59-13 early in the fourth. Eastern Michigan’s Ryan

Brumfield closed the scoring a 5-yard touchdown run with 4:11 to

play.

Before the game Northern Illinois officially opened a new $9.5

million indoor facility. The multi-purpose Chessick Practice Center

features a full-size 120-yard practice field and amenities for

other sports.

Both teams wore No. 2 decals on their helmets and observed a

moment of silence before the game in memory of Eastern Michigan

junior Demarius Reed, a Chicago native killed in a Oct. 18 shooting

in Ypsilanti, Mich.