DeKALB – Jordan Lynch went up to Da’Ron Brown and told the junior wide receiver he was going to find him again.
Brown had just fumbled away a crucial opportunity in the red zone in the fourth quarter of NIU’s all-important game against Ball State on Wednesday night at Huskie Stadium, and it was a play which, at the time, looked like it could have led to a Cardinals victory.
Brown’s fumble, which was forced by Cardinals defensive back Eric Patterson at the Ball State 12-yard line, came after he caught a pass on a long post route which went for 54 yards.
“I need to have better ball security,” Brown said. “If I would have had better ball security, it wouldn’t have happened. That’s on me.”
However, it wasn’t the last opportunity Brown would have Wednesday night.
On the Huskies’ next possession, he grabbed the game-winning touchdown on a 36-yard pass from Lynch which put NIU up by seven.
The Huskies would go on to win, 48-27, staying alive in the race for the Mid-American Conference title and possible BCS bowl game.
“Stuff happens right? People fumble,” Lynch said. “I told him, I went right back up to him and I was just being honest, I was telling him ‘I’m going back to you.’ ”
Brown had his first career 100-yard receiving game, and then some. He finished with eight catches for 209 yards, the seventh-most by any receiver in NIU history, and caught two touchdowns – the other being a 58-yard grab from Lynch on a bubble screen late in the second quarter.
After his fumble, NIU’s only turnover of the game, Brown was able to redeem himself less than 10 minutes later.
“It felt good to come back, make a big play,” Brown said. “The whole time (after the fumble) my teammates were telling me ‘Keep your head up.’ Jordan was telling me he’s going to come back to me, that showed me that he had confidence in me and I couldn’t let the team down, so I had to step up and make another play.”
NIU didn’t really take many chances downfield in the first half, instead relying on screens, which were effective. In the second half, however, Ball State started concentrating on the run and Lynch was able to capitalize downfield, finishing with 345 passing yards.
“On some of our jet sweeps and stuff like that, we noticed the first half, their safeties were staying back and stuff like that, on the jet sweeps,” Lynch said. “Second half they’re kind of inching closer, closer and closer. That’s when we took advantage of those deep balls.”