DeKALB, Ill -- Senior quarterback Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois accomplished something Saturday that had eluded him throughout his career.
Lynch led the Huskies to a BCS bowl game last season, became the first player in FBS history to pass for more than 3,000 yards and run for more than 1,500 yards in a single season in 2012, and set an FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 316 yards last week against Central Michigan.
But Lynch had never caught a pass. In typical Lynch fashion, he made that an unforgettable moment, leaping over three defenders on a 17-yard touchdown reception from Tommylee Lewis in the second quarter. He also threw four touchdown passes and ran for another score to lead No. 18 Northern Illinois to a 59-20 victory over Eastern Michigan.
The touchdown grab was the play to remember.
"I was just trying to catch the ball," Lynch said. "I've been wanting to catch a (touchdown) pass my whole career. I finally got one, now."
Lynch totaled six touchdowns, passed for 223 yards and ran for 99 yards before leaving the game in the middle of the third quarter, lifting his season totals to 1,031 yards rushing, 1,711 yards passing and 17 yards receiving.
Lynch became the first FBS player to run the ball, throw and catch a pass in the same game since Boo Jackson of Ohio in 2010.
"I think he had fun out there," NIU coach Rod Carey said of Lynch. "He's been begging for that (receiver pass) play for awhile. Now, he can't talk about it anymore."
The Huskies (8-0, 4-0 Mid-American Conference West Division) racked up 658 yards of total offense and distributed the wealth with four different players throwing touchdown passes and six players catching at least one touchdown. Da'Ron Brown had two touchdown catches and Lewis caught 10 passes for 107 yards and threw a touchdown pass.
Northern Illinois scored a touchdown on its first three drives to seize a 21-0 lead. Lynch threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Brown and a 10-yarder to Joel Bouagnon for a 14-0 lead. Lynch scored on a 30-yard touchdown run to cap Northern Illinois's 21-point first-quarter.
"We wanted to get out to a fast start, and I wasn't worried about points," Carey said. "I was worried how we executed. They (the offense) were going today, which was good."
The highlight of the second quarter came when Lynch caught the pass, giving him a hand in four touchdowns in the first half.
The Eagles (1-7, 0-4) suffered a second straight blowout loss since the death of wide receiver Demarius Reed from multiple shotgun wounds at an off-campus apartment complex on Oct. 18.
The Eagles honored their slain teammate by donning black wristbands and helmet stickers with Reed's No. 2 jersey number. Eastern Michigan attended Reed's wake in Chicago on Friday.
"It's been an emotional time for our program," Eastern Michigan coach Ron English said. "Demarius really turned his life around and was a special football player."
Eastern Michigan tried to shift things up for a spark by starting true freshman quarterback Brogan Roback. Junior Tyler Benz, who had started the first seven games this season, relived Roback in the second quarter. Roback threw for 109 yards and Benz added 64 yards passing and one touchdown. Javonti Greene rushed for a team-high 66 yards and Bronson Hill added 65 yards for the Eagles.
The Eagles trailed, 45-6, before scoring heir first touchdown when Benz found
Tyreese Russell for a nine-yard score with 6:33 left in the third quarter.
"Northern Illinois is a very good football team," English said. "They (Northern Illinois) ran some different formations than we had seen on film."
NOTES: Before Saturday's game, a moment of silence was held to honor Eastern Michigan wide receiver Demarius Reed, who was found dead on the morning of Oct. 18 from multiple gunshot wounds at an off-campus apartment complex. On Friday, the Eastern Michigan football team and coaching staff attended Friday's visitation and wake for Reed. ... Before Saturday's kickoff, Northern Illinois held the grand opening of the Chessick Practice Center. ... For the first time this season, Northern Illinois did not trail in a game. The Huskies scored the first 21 points.