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(Wednesday, November 14)
Final Score: Northern Illinois 31, Toledo 24
DeKalb, IL (Sports Network) - Jordan Lynch led the way as Northern Illinois claimed the Mid-American Conference West Division crown with a 31-24 victory over the Toledo Rockets at Huskie Stadium.
Lynch set a new program record for total yards of offense with 569 to help NIU (10-1, 7-0 MAC) punch its ticket to the MAC Championship. The Huskies extended their FBS leading home and conference winning streaks to 21 and 15 games, respectively. Lynch, who is the top rushing quarterback in the FBS, was impressive as a passer with 407 yards and three touchdowns on 25-of-36 efficiency. He also gained 162 yards on the ground. Martel Moore was unstoppable with seven catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Jimmie Ward paced the Huskies' defensive unit with 11 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception.
The loss was the second in a row for Toledo (8-3, 5-2), which would have taken over first place in the West Division standings with a victory. Terrance Owens completed 22-of-32 attempts for 265 yards, but three a career-high three interceptions in the loss. The Rockets' quarterback added 51 yards and a score on the ground. Bernard Reedy reeled in a game-high 10 receptions for 131 yards while David Fluellen racked up 79 yards and a score on 22 attempts. Dan Molls, who leads the FBS in tackles, recorded 16 total stops and intercepted a pass inside Toledo's five-yard line before returning it 63 yards.
Toledo provided the only points of the opening period as Fluellen plunged one- yard across the goal line to finish off a 12-play, 72 yard drive.
NIU finally got on the board at the 6:27 mark of the second quarter when Lynch completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Moore. The Rockets took a 14-7 advantage into the intermission after Owens snuck one-yard into the end zone with 3:28 left in the half.
The Huskies, who are the defending conference champions, took control after the break. On the first play from scrimmage in the third period, Lynch completed a pass short pass to Moore who was instantly met by a Toledo defender. However, Moore broke the tackle and somehow maintained balance before turning the routine play into a 73-yard touchdown catch.
After Owens was intercepted by Rashaan Melvin on the goal line, Lynch led the Huskies on a nine-play, 99-yard drive which ended with a six-yard touchdown pass to Perez Ashford. The Huskies continued to overcome terrible field position by producing a seven-play, 97-yard drive that Akeem Daniels punctuated with a six-yard touchdown run.
Mathew Sims increased NIU's advantage to 31-14 with a 43-yard field goal early in the fourth frame. The Huskies' 24-0 run gave them a 31-14 lead with 12:31 left before the final gun.
Toledo inched back as Cassius McDowell rushed five yards for a touchdown near the 10 minute mark. Jeremiah Detmer made it a one-possession game with six minutes left to play by chipping in a 34-yard field goal attempt. The Huskies took over and managed to run the clock out to earn the crucial victory.
NIU gained 596 yards of total offense while its opponent gained 396 yards.
11/15 02:23:07 ET
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