"It's disappointing," senior quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen said
of the 1-11 season. "It's not what we set out to do. But we learned
a lot of stuff and the program is going in the right direction."
The program to emulate was on the opposite side of Huskie Stadium as
No. 18 Northern Illinois completed its first unbeaten regular season
in 50 years with a 33-14 victory over the Broncos on Tuesday night.
Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch broke his single-game FBS rushing
record for quarterbacks with 321 yards.
P.J. Fleck helped recruit quarterback Lynch to Northern Illinois so
the first-year Western Michigan coach had a good idea what to
expect. But no amount of preparation could counter what Lynch
delivered on a wintery night.
"Jordan Lynch is the best player in college football and that's no
disrespect to anyone else" said Fleck, a former Northern Illinois
star receiver and assistant coach. "The reason is he makes every
single guy around him better. He is what Northern Illinois is about.
... And with all the pressure, he continues to perform."
Lynch carried the ball 27 times in topping his previous record of
316 yards, set on Oct. 19 against Central Michigan. He established
the mark with a 6-yard run with 13:49 to play. He scored on runs of
29, 36 and 37 yards and threw a 10-yard TD.
The Huskies (12-0, 8-0 Mid-American) shook off 17-degree
temperatures, brisk winds and occasional light snowfall to extend
the nation's longest active home winning streak to 26 games.
The Broncos (1-11, 1-7) dropped their third straight. Running back
Dareyon Chance scored one touchdown and Antoin Scriven scored
"I'm really proud of our young men," Fleck said. "The way they
continued to fight (all season) has really inspired me as a football
coach. I'm proud of their determination and their fight.
"We're young, we're inexperienced. We'll be back," he added.
The Huskies, No. 14 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, also
officially locked down their fourth straight West Division title on
Tuesday with their 25th straight conference victory. They will meet
Bowling Green or Buffalo in the Dec. 6 MAC title game at Detroit's
Northern Illinois' only other unbeaten season was the 1963 team that
went 10-0 and won an NCAA College Division championship. The Huskies
moved into the major college ranks in 1969.
Running back Cameron Stingily ran 14 times for 49 yards and topped
the 1,000 yard mark. It's the first time Northern Illinois has had
two 1,000-yard runners in a season. Lynch has 1,755 yards.
[to top of second column]
"He's been important to us all year," Carey
said. "Just because he got 1,000 doesn't validate him because he
was already validated."
The Huskies stalled deep in Bronco territory on their opening
drive and kicker Matt Sims missed on a 34-yard field goal
But on the next possession Lynch guided Northern Illinois on an
80-yard, 8-play scoring drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to
Jawan Brescacin for a 7-0 lead with 1:10 left in the first
Western Michigan moved to the Northern Illinois 1 and survived a
goal-line fumble early in the second quarter when Dareyon Chance
completed the 12-play, 63-yard drive with a run up the middle to
tie it 7-all.
Lynch, a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate, topped the
100-yard rushing mark early in the second quarter and later
bolted 29 yards for his 18th rushing touchdown of the year and a
14-7 lead with 9:43 showing.
Lynch struck again with 7:31 left in the half with a 36-yard
sprint as he passed 200 yards. Sims' extra point kick failed,
leaving Northern Illinois with a 20-7 lead.
Western Michigan was thwarted with 5 seconds showing as Andrew
Haldeman's 37-yard field goal try was blocked. On a previous
drive Haldeman missed a 42-yard try.
Northern Illinois opened a 23-7 lead on Sims's 23-yard field
goal into the wind with 5:38 left in the half.
Lynch scored his third touchdown on a 37-yard run, surpassing
300 yards as the Huskies extended the led to 30-7.
Sims hit a 32-yard field goal with 12:52 to play.
Western Michigan broke a 50-minute scoring drought when
Scriven's one-yard touchdown run cut the Northern Illinois lead
to 33-14 with 4:40 to play.
Tuesday's game was the final home game for Lynch and 16 other
Northern Illinois seniors. It was also the finale for Diesel, a
10-year-old purebred Husky who served team mascot for nine
Northern Illinois beat Western Michigan for the fifth straight
time but the Broncos still lead the overall series 23-16 and are
11-9 in DeKalb.
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