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Huskies claim 3rd straight MAC West title

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(Rob Winner — rwinner@shawmedia.com)
Northern Illinois running back Akeem Daniels (3) celebrates his 6-yard touchdown run during the third quarter in DeKalb, Ill., Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. NIU defeated Toledo, 31-24.

DeKALB – Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren called Martel Moore’s 73-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter Wednesday “a heck of a play.”

On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Moore took a screen pass, nearly going down.

But he stayed on his feet and juked two Toledo tacklers before leaving the Rockets behind on the way to the end zone.

The catch pulled the Huskies even with Toledo before the NIU offense exploded in the second half of a 31-24 win. The victory gave the Huskies (10-1, 7-0 Mid-American Conference) their third consecutive MAC West crown on senior night.

NIU will play in the MAC Championship Game on Nov. 30 against the MAC East champion.

Wednesday’s victory marked the third consecutive year NIU has beaten Toledo (8-3, 5-2 MAC).

Moore was big all game, catching seven passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns. His grab in the third quarter gave the NIU offense, which scored 24 points in the second half, some key momentum.

“That sparked us right there,” Doeren said. “Things just kind of took off.”

The Rockets had tacklers surround Moore, but he was able to stay on his feet, and sped past the defenders to the end zone.

“It was about winning the game,” Moore said of his catch. “The ball came to me so I had to make a play. … If the ball’s in my hands I’ve got to make a play for the team.”

NIU’s offense was stagnant at times during the first half, but was dominant in the second, particularly the third quarter.

Quarterback Jordan Lynch finished the game 25 of 36 passing with 407 yards and an interception, also running for 162 yards. The junior’s 569 yards of offense broke the school’s single-game total offense mark. In the third, Lynch went 15 of 17 for 296 yards, two passing touchdowns and an interception.

“He’s a great player. I think I said it before the football game, I think the thing you know in this conference is the best quarterback in this conference usually has a chance to win a MAC Championship,” Toledo head coach Matt Campbell said. “And I think right now, he’s playing at an extremely high level, and he’s a young man that, he plays very consistent.

“For as much as he runs the football, his ability to run with such power, but yet throw the ball with great consistency and have the ability to sustain his success over the last 11 football games, a lot of credit has to go to him.”

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