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Lynch leads Northern Illinois past Western Michigan

The SportsXchange

DEKALB, Ill. -- Northern Illinois senior quarterback Jordan Lynch made sure his final home game at Huskie Stadium was a historic occasion.

Lynch broke his own Football Bowl Subdivision single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback, compiling 321 yards rushing on 27 carries and scoring three touchdowns Tuesday to lift No. 14 Northern Illinois to a 33-14 victory over Western Michigan.

Lynch previously set the FBS single-game rushing record for a quarterback with 316 yards against Central Michigan on Oct. 19. In that game, he broke former NIU quarterback Stacey Robinson's record of 308 yards, set against Fresno State on Oct. 6, 1990.

Lynch's 6-yard run on the second play of the fourth quarter Tuesday -- also his last carry of the game -- eclipsed his old record.

On a frigid night with the offense struggling, the Huskies (12-0, 8-0 Mid-American Conference) needed a big game from Lynch. He delivered to help Northern Illinois to its 26th win in a row at Huskie Stadium, and second straight undefeated season in conference play. Lynch capped his career undefeated at Huskie Stadium, while not yet losing to a conference team as a starter. Lynch accounted for 360 of NIU's 464 total yards.

"It feels good to go out with a win on Senior Night," Lynch said. "The offensive line made my job a lot easier. It's great to finish undefeated and now we can get ready for the MAC championship game."

With a representative from the Fiesta Bowl in attendance, Lynch carried the offense with his running. He scored on runs of 29, 36 and 37 yards to keep NIU's chances for a BCS bowl game alive.

The Huskies will play the winner of the Buffalo and Bowling Green contest Dec. 6 in the MAC Championship game at Ford Field in Detroit.

"I'm really proud of the team (for finishing undefeated)," NIU coach Rod Carey said. "I couldn't be prouder of the seniors. They set the bar higher for other senior classes here. That's a special group."

The wintery conditions made passing the ball tough for both teams. Lynch was 5-of-17 passing for 39 yards and one touchdown. Northern Illinois tailback Cameron Stingily rushed 14 times for 49 yards to reach 1,007 yards, giving the Huskies a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in the same season for the first time in school history.

Rod Carey campaigned for Lynch to be among the players to the New York for the Dec. 14 Heisman Trophy ceremony. Lynch finished seventh in last year's voting.

"I think he had a Heisman trophy performance tonight," Carey said. "I think he should be there."

Lynch finishes the regular season with 248 carries for 1,755 yards and 30 rushing touchdowns.

"He's the best player in college football," said WMU first-year coach P.J. Fleck, a former star wide receiver at Northern Illinois from 1999-03, of Lynch. "I've seen a lot of players. He makes his team what it is. They look for him to make every play, and he makes them. He's the best player on their team."

The Broncos (1-11, 1-7) entered the West Division contest as 35-point underdogs but might have gained a moral victory by hurting the Huskies' chances to move up in the next BCS standings, which will be released Sunday night.

Western Michigan, which earned its lone win this season at Massachusetts on Oct. 26, scored a touchdown in each half. The Broncos, though, missed several chances to add points due to a missed field, having a field goal blocked and losing a fumble.

Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell threw for 139 yards on 13-of-26 passing before leaving the game with a shoulder injury.

"We moved the ball surprisingly well, considering the conditions," Fleck said. "They just ran the ball better than we did. We passed better. We had opportunities to make plays. We were in attack mode. I thought our kids played extremely hard."

The Huskies got off to their slowest start of the season. Northern Illinois, which trailed in 10 of its first 11 games this season, led 7-0 after the first quarter after Lynch's 10-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Brescacin.

The Broncos tied the score at 7 early in the second quarter on Dareyon Chance's 1-yard touchdown run.

Lynch then took matters into his own hands, scoring on touchdown runs of 29 and 26 yards on the Huskies' next two possessions for a 20-7 lead. In a recurring late-season theme, the Huskies relied on Lynch for the majority of their first-half yardage.

In the first half, Lynch carried the ball 17 times for 229 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 39 yards and one touchdown. The Broncos moved the ball but could register just seven first-half points after kicker Andrew Haldeman missed a field goal and had one blocked at the end of the second quarter.

NOTES: Northern Illinois senior QB Jordan Lynch topped the 4,000-yard rushing mark for his career in the first half Tuesday. Lynch finishes the regular season with 4,178 career rushing yards. ... Western Michigan first-year coach P.J. Fleck made his return to Huskie Stadium. Fleck was a standout wide receiver at Northern Illinois from 1999-03, then spent two years as a wide receivers coach at NIU. He was named Northern Illinois' offensive coordinator last season, but he resigned less than 24 hours later to become the wide receivers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ... Western Michigan's Corey Davis is 59 yards shy of becoming the fourth wide receiver in Mid-American Conference history to reach 1,000 yards receiving in his freshman season. Davis had three catches for 28 yards Tuesday, all in the first half.

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