DeKALB – Talk of Northern Illinois going to another Bowl Championship Series game will survive for at least another week.
So will the chances of a third straight Mid-American Conference championship. The Huskies’ MAC West title hopes continued Wednesday with a 48-27 win over Ball State at Huskie Stadium.
No. 15 NIU (10-0, 6-0 MAC West) would clinch the West Division with a win at Toledo on Wednesday.
The victory is NIU’s 25th consecutive at Huskie Stadium, and the Huskies’ 23rd in a row in MAC play.
Both Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning and NIU’s Jordan Lynch shined on ESPN2 in the national spotlight. Wenning went 35-for-49 for 324 yards and a touchdown pass. Lynch was 26-for-32 for 325 yards and two touchdown passes, and ran for 123 yards and two scores.
“I said the same thing about [former NIU QB Chandler Harnish] a couple years ago...I’m looking forward to [Lynch] getting his degree and moving on,” Ball State coach Pete Lembo said.
Da’Ron Brown’s 36-yard touchdown catch from Jordan Lynch with less than 6 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter was the game-winning score. It came just a few minutes after after he committed the first turnover of the game, fumbling the ball at the Ball State 10-yard line after another long reception.
One of the plays of the game came in the third quarter, with the Huskies facing a third-and-10 at their own 28-yard line. Lynch appeared to be wrapped up, but bounced off a few Cardinals and ran for a first down.
NIU converted two fourth downs on the 17-play, 85-yard drive – the second being a Cameron Stingily 1-yard touchdown run to put NIU up 27-24.
Ball State (9-2, 6-1) tied the game at 27 on a Scott Secor 19-yard field goal.
NIU closed out the scoring with Brown’s catch, a 16-yard run by Jordan Lynch, and a 49-yard interception return by Joe Windsor. The Huskies outscored Ball State 28-3 after halftime.
NIU’s defensive unit came up with a huge play when it was needed.
Late in the fourth, with Ball State facing a fourth-and-1 at the NIU 44, Cardinals tailback Jahwan Edwards, tough to bring down all night, was stuffed by Joe Windsor for a 1-yard loss.