Led by the one-two punch of quarterback Jordan Lynch and tailback Akeem Daniels, Northern Illinois cruised to a 49-7 victory over Eastern Michigan at Rynearson Stadium Friday.
The Huskies won their 11th straight game to finish the regular season 11-1 overall and 8-0 in Mid-American Conference play.
On Sunday, NIU moved up in two national polls. The Huskies are now No. 18 in USA Today and No. 19 in Associated Press rankings.
Daniels finished with a career-high 112 yards rushing on 12 carries with four touchdowns and Lynch rushed for 107 yards on 20 carries, and threw for 168 yards on 16-of-25 passing with one score to pace the Northern Illinois offense.
Nine of Lynch’s completions went to senior Martel Moore, who recorded his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the season with 116 yards and a 43-yard touchdown catch.
NIU reached 11 wins in the regular season for the first time in school history to match the Huskies’ win total from each of the past two seasons. Northern Illinois takes a 16-game Mid-American Conference win streak into the 2012 Marathon MAC Championship game at Ford Field in Detroit at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, on ESPN2.
“It means a lot to be a part of history,” said NIU head coach Dave Doeren. “Anytime you do something that has never been done, that’s pretty special. The guys did a nice job executing today. We tried to get some guys some numbers, especially Martel with the 1,000-yard season. That’s pretty rare around here.”
Lynch extended his NCAA (FBS) record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games to 10 while accounting for 275 yards of total offense in the game. Lynch has been below the 100-yard mark in rushing yards only once this season, in the second game of the year versus Tennessee Martin. His 11 100-yard rushing games this season are a school single season record.
Northern Illinois took a 7-0 lead on Daniels’ first touchdown run, a 25-yard jaunt, with 5:35 to play in the first quarter. Eastern Michigan responded with an 82-yard drive that consumed 5:13 on the clock to tie the score at seven on a 20-yard pass from Tyler Benz to Matt Boyd.
It would be the last offensive highlight of the day for the Eagles.
Seconds later, Northern Illinois regained the lead as Tommylee Lewis returned the ensuing EMU kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 Huskie lead. The kickoff return score was the third of Lewis’ career.
The Huskie defense controlled Eastern Michigan throughout the second and third quarters, limiting the Eagles (2-10, 1-7) to only 116 yards. EMU did not advance inside the Northern Illinois 41 until the final play of the third quarter.
Meanwhile, as a driving snowstorm blanketed the field in white and made for slippery and icy conditions, the Huskies used the running of Daniels and Lynch to march for an 80-yard score. Daniels went untouched up the middle for a 20-yard score to give the Huskies a 21-7 lead.
NIU added another score before halftime thanks in part to an illegal substitution penalty on EMU on a fourth down play. Given another set of downs, the Huskies took advantage as on fourth-and-one from the 43, Lynch hit Martel Moore who turned upfield for a score with 53 seconds left in the half. Northern Illinois took a 28-7 halftime lead.
Daniels added two more rushing touchdowns, of 19 and 16 yards, to record the first four-rushing touchdown game by a Huskie since Garrett Wolfe accomplished the feat versus Indiana State in 2006.
“I’m really happy for Akeem,” Doeren said. “He’s been getting better all year. He’s been doing a lot of unselfish things – blocking for Jordan, and in our protection schemes – so to see him run like that and get in the end zone four times was great.”
Freshman receiver Jacob Brinlee added the final score, an 11-yard run with 1:23 on the clock, to provide the final margin for the Huskies.