Huskies come back to beat Ball State 35-23
NIU improved to 5-1 on the season and is 2-0 in Mid-American Conference games. The Huskies' start is its best since the 2003 season.
Junior tailback Akeem Daniels scored on a 54-yard pass from Jordan Lynch with 4:58 to play, and Lynch added a 71-yard touchdown run two minutes later as the Northern Illinois Huskies overcame a fourth-quarter deficit for the third time this season to claim a 35-23 victory over Ball State Saturday at Scheumann Stadium.
"We're a good fourth-quarter team," said NIU Head Coach Dave Doeren. "I think we do a good job of wearing guys down and I'm really proud of the resiliency of our football team. Road wins say a lot about our coaching staff and our players. When they are down, there is no flinch."
Lynch ran for a career-high 207 rushing yards on 29 carries with three rushing touchdowns, and threw for 195 yards and a score on 16-of-23 passing to account for 402 yards of total offense in the win. NIU improved to 5-1 overall while continuing its best start since 2003 and is now 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference . Ball State fell to 3-3 and is 1-2 in the MAC.
After falling behind 23-14 on Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning's one-yard run with 12:24 to play in the third quarter, NIU scored the last 21 points of the game. Lynch scored on a 12-yard run to close out a five-play, 61-yard drive in just 1:01 at 8:46 of the third quarter to pull the Huskies within two at 23-21.
NIU's next drive ended when Tommylee Lewis' fumble was recovered by Ball State at the BSU 25. A Cardinals' punt returned the ball to Northern Illinois with 6:25 to play and on second-and-seven from the Ball State 46, Lynch hit Daniels with a short pass in the right flat and the junior went 54 yards for the score. Mathew Sims' extra point gave the Huskies a 28-23 lead.
The Huskie defense forced a three-and-out and NIU regained possession on its own 26-yard line with 3:58 to play. NIU faced third-and-seven at its 29 with 3:11 to play when Lynch burst through the middle, broke a tackle and raced to the end zone.
"I thought [offensive coordinator] Rod Carey called some key plays. [The pass to] Akeem was a big-time call. Jordan threw a great ball and obviously Akeem finished the play. The [71-yard] quarterback draw was a great effort by Jordan."
"Our word for the week was perseverance and I don't think I could have picked a better word for the team," Doeren said. "I thought the defense had a ton of huge stops today. We hit [Wenning] a lot and forced some bad throws. "
NIU has won 14 of its last 15 games, including 10 straight versus Mid-American Conference foes.