Lynch and NIU Roll Past UMass
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quarterback Jordan Lynch and the Northern Illinois express charged through Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
Lynch ran for four touchdowns, three in the first quarter, and passed for one in a little more than two quarters to power the 17th-ranked Huskies to a 63-19 Mid-American Conference blowout of Massachusetts.
“I’m a quarterback first,” said Lynch, who twice scored on scrambles, one when the line parted like the Red Sea and he ran in from 19 yards. “I don’t look to run first.
“I’m a quarterback first, go back there and drop. I don’t try and force any balls. I try not to turn the ball over. I feel like if I’m going to force something, I’d rather just use my legs and find the hole.”
Northern Illinois, which became the first MAC team to reach a BCS bowl when it played in the Orange Bowl last season, won its 15th consecutive regular season road game and its 22nd straight against conference opponents.
The Huskies (9-0, 5-0 in the MAC) entered play Saturday as one of eight undefeated FBS teams in the country.
Lynch, who left the game after the first possession of the second half and after his fourth rushing touchdown, scored on runs of six, 25, 19 and 11 yards, and has 12 rushing scores this season. He has 23 for his career.
Lynch, who also hit wide receiver Juwan Brescacin with a 69-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, finished with 119 yards on 17 carries and completed 10-for-13 passes for 160 yards.
Northern Illinois scored on its first five drives and six of its seven in the first half.
“I was really pleased with the way we came out played,” coach Rod Carey said. “We started fast. … The start was the key and we did a nice job of that.”
Lynch and tailback Cameron Stingily, who came into the game as the top 1-2 rushing punch in the country, combined for 177 yards. Stingily had a six-yard touchdown run and wide receiver Tommylee Lewis scored on a 15-yard reverse.
Backup quarterback Drew Hare connected with freshman receiver Chad Beebe for an 81-yard catch and run for a touchdown, and then ran 47 yards for the final score with 5:41 left.
Senior Brendon Levengood, in his first 2013 game as the starting kicker, tied a UMass record by kicking four goals, connecting from 42, 46, 44 and 40 yards, all higher than his previous best of 38.
The Minutemen (1-8 with three straight losses, 1-4 in the MAC) took a 3-0 lead on Levengood’s first field goal and he kicked another to bring his team to within 7-6 with 5:35 left in the first quarter.
For UMass, playing without several key injured players — including quarterback A.J. Doyle and tight end Rob Blanchflower — it was downhill from there.
“I feel like we’ve made some strides; I feel like we’ve closed some ground on them,” UMass coach Charley Molnar said. “We have a long way to go, but I believe this: that (the Huskies are) at their apex, they’re at their crescendo, and we’re working to get there.
“We’re not there yet, so we’ve made some ground and our best days are ahead of us.”
Mike Wegzyn, making his 14th start in his two-year UMass career, competed 10-for-25 passes for 169 yards, with two interceptions. Freshman tailback Lorenzo Woodley, making his first start with two running backs out, ran for a career-high 163 yards on 38 carries and scored his second touchdown, both in the last two weeks.
“It’s a good start for me,” Woodley said. “I feel like I’m going to get better and better each game.”
NOTES: T Tyler Loos of Northern Illinois sustained a serious left leg injury and stayed in Boston for surgery, leaving his coach emotional after the game. … Brendon Levengood is the first UMass kicker with four field goals in a game since George Papoutsidis did it on Sept. 1, 1984. … The announced attendance was 10,061, but there were probably no more than 2,500 in the stadium. The UMass crowd was made even smaller because of the Red Sox’s World Series parade in Boston. … The game marked the start of a three-game weekend at Gillette, with the MLS Revolution hosting Sporting KC in a playoff game on Saturday night and the Patriots facing the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. … Rob Blanchflower missed the game and still needs 14 yards to become the program’s all-time leader in tight end receiving yardage. … Northern Illinois is off next Saturday and then hosts Ball State the following Wednesday. UMass is off next week before Akron comes to Gillette. … Two weeks ago, Jordan Lynch ran for 316 yards on 32 carries against Central Michigan, and last week became the second FBS player ever to catch a touchdown pass, run for one and throw for four in game. … Chad Beebe is the son of former NFL receiver Don Beebe.