DE KALB, Ill. (AP) — Despite struggling on offense, Northern Illinois still found a way to win.
The 23rd-ranked Huskies used their defense and kicking game to beat Akron 27-20 on Saturday night after the offense went 1 for 15 on third down conversions.
“(We) missed opportunities on offense and third downs and just didn’t move the ball the way we wanted to and put our defense in a real tough spot most of the game,” said Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey. “But our kicking game and our defense, boy did they respond to get two stops at the end to ice the game away.”
The Huskies defense shut down two Akron drives in the final 3:52 to secure the victory.
The offense, meanwhile, had enough to engineer five scores as the Northern Illinois extended its home winning streak to 23 straight, the nation’s longest current run.
Jordan Lynch threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Northern Illinois extended the nation’s longest current home winning streak to 23 games.
Lynch was 16 of 35 for 220 yards passing and ran for 83 more, Cameron Stingily rushed 21 times for 80 yards and a touchdown while Tyler Wedel added field goals of 42 and 21 yards for the Huskies (6-0, 2-0 MAC East).
Jawan Chisholm scored on a pair of one-yard first half runs for Akron (1-6, 0-3) and ran 20 times for 70 yards. Zips quarterback Kyle Pohl was 24 of 56 for 262 yards.
Akron’s road loss was its 30th straight, also the nation’s longest current streak. The Zips beat Central Michigan 42-35 on Oct. 18, 2008 for its last road win.
Akron opened a 7-0 lead on its first possession as Chisholm capped a 9-play, 71-yard drive with 1-yard touchdown run with 11:04 showing.
Northern Illinois replied with 17 unanswered points starting with Lynch’s 18-yard touchdown run just 63 seconds later to tie the score.
“(Lynch) wasn’t getting the big chucks that he usually does, but he doesn’t make mistakes,” Akron coach Terry Bowden said. “He didn’t give us the game or give us a chance.”
Tyler Wedel, filling in for regular kicker Mathew Sims, hit a 42-yard field goal with 7:33 left in the first quarter — the first of his career — for a 10-7 Northern Illinois lead.
Lynch connected with Desroy Maxwell on a 25-yard scoring strike with 4:52 left as the Huskies made it 17-7. The score was also a career first for Maxwell.
Chisholm scored his second touchdown of the quarter on a 1-yard leap with 1:12 remaining to cut the Zip deficit to 17-14.
A 40-yard pass from from Lynch to Tommylee Lewis set up Northern Illinois’ third touchdown — a 9 yard run by Cameron Stingily with 11:37 left in the third for a 24-14 lead.
“I was kind of out of rhythm, missing throws and we were off only by an inch,” Lynch said. “All the credit goes to Akron’s defense. They played us well.”
Huskie safety Jimmy Ward intercepted Pohl early in the fourth quarter at the Zip 30 to set up the Huskies’ fifth score, a 21-yard Wedel field goal and a 27-14 lead with 11:19 left in the fourth quarter.
Ward’s interception was his fifth of the season and fourth in his last four games. He entered the game ranked second in the nation.
Pohl’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Tyrell Goodman with 5:27 showing to cut the Huskie lead to 27-20. But Northern Illinois’ Boomer Mays blocked Robert Stein’s extra point kick.
The Zips blocked a 40-yard Wedel field goal try with 1:15 left and regained possession at its own 32, but the Northern Illinois defense stopped Akron on a fourth and 10 at its own 45.
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