MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Central Michigan went to the halftime break tied 14-14 with No. 23 Northern Illinois but couldn't hold off the Huskies in the second half and fell, 38-17, on Homecoming Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
The Chippewas jumped out in front of Northern Illinois with an efficient first quarter led by Cooper Rush. The redshirt freshman completed 8-of-11 passes for 146 yards in the first quarter, finding junior Titus Davis and sophomore Andrew Flory on touchdown strikes of nine and 36 yards to give CMU a 14-7 lead.
A five-yard rushing touchdown by NIU senior quarterback Jordan Lynch evened the contest at the 8:50 mark of the second quarter. The Huskies nearly took a lead into halftime but junior linebacker Justin Cherocci intercepted a Lynch pass, off a deflection by redshirt sophomore defensive end Blake Serpa, inside the red zone to thwart the NIU attack and send the teams to the locker rooms all even.
Lynch then took over however, helping the Huskies outscore the Chippewas 24-3 in the second half en route to his Kelly/Shorts Stadium record of 471 total yards of offense. Lynch also broke the FBS rushing record by a quarterback with his 316 yards.
Despite Lynch's record-breaking performance, the Chippewas stayed within striking distance after a 38-yard field goal by redshirt freshman Ron Coluzzi pulled them within a touchdown, 24-17, with 14:50 to play in the contest. CMU's defense forced a three-and-out on NIU's next possession and were able to move into Huskie territory, but Rush was sacked on third down for a loss of nine yards, forcing a punt.
Following the punt, Northern Illinois put together a quick seven-play scoring drive capped on a three-yard rushing touchdown by Lynch and later put the game out of reach on a 19-yard rush by Cameron Stingily.
Davis and Flory both caught five passes for the Chippewas. Flory recorded 81 yards and a score, while Davis finished with 109 yards and his fifth touchdown reception of the season. Rush finished the contest 16-for-32 with 271 yards passing.
After two consecutive 100-yard rushing games, sophomore running back Saylor Lavalii could not get untracked versus NIU, rushing for 53 yards on 16 carries.
Central Michigan will begin a two-game road swing when it travels to Muncie, Ind., for a nationally televised MAC match-up with Ball State (6-1, 3-0) on Wednesday, Nov. 6. The MAC West showdown is scheduled for an 8 p.m kickoff and will be broadcast on ESPN2.