DeKALB – Talk of Northern Illinois going to another Bowl Championship Series game will survive for at least one more week.
So will the chances of a third straight Mid-American Conference championship. The Huskies’ MAC West title hopes continued with Wednesday’s impressive 48-27 win over Ball State at Huskie Stadium. No. 15 NIU (10-0, 6-0 MAC West) will clinch the West Division with a win on Wednesday at Toledo.
The victory is NIU’s 25th consecutive at Huskie Stadium, and it’s the Huskies’ 23rd in a row in MAC play.
Both Ball State (9-2, 6-1) quarterback Keith Wenning and NIU’s Jordan Lynch shined on ESPN2 in the national spotlight. Wenning went 35 for 49 for 324 yards and a touchdown pass. Lynch was 26 of 32 for 325 yards and two touchdown passes, and ran for 123 yards and two scores.
“I said the same thing about [former NIU QB Chandler Harnish] a couple years ago...I’m looking forward to [Lynch] getting his degree and moving on,” Ball State coach Pete Lembo said.
Da’Ron Brown’s 36-yard touchdown catch from Jordan Lynch with less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter was the game-winning score. Brown’s touchdown reception came just a few minutes after after he committed the first turnover of the game, fumbling the ball at the Ball State 10-yard line after another long catch from Lynch, costing the Huskies a shot at another scoring opportunity.
One of the plays of the game came in the third quarter, with the Huskies facing a third-and-10 at their own 28-yard line. Lynch looked to be wrapped up by the Cardinals defense, but bounced off a few tacklers and ran for a first down.
NIU would go on to convert two fourth downs on the drive – the second being a Cameron Stingily 1-yard touchdown run to put NIU up 27-24. The 85-yard drive featured 17 plays.
Ball State would tie the game, 27-27, on a Scott Secor 19-yard field goal.
NIU closed out the scoring with Brown’s catch, a 16-yard run by Jordan Lynch, and a 49-yard interception return by Joe Windsor. Overall, the Huskies outscored Ball State, 28-3, after halftime.
The game featured a lot more offense than defense, but NIU’s defensive unit came up with a huge play when it was needed.
Late in the fourth quarter, with Ball State facing a 4th and 1 from the NIU 44-yard line, Cardinals tailback Jahwan Edwards, who the Huskies had a tough time bringing down all night, was stuffed by Joe Windsor for a loss of one yard.