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Lynch leads NIU past Purdue 55-24

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Jordan Lynch threw for 207 yards and three touchdowns, and Northern Illinois scored on a kickoff return and an interception return to rout Purdue 55-24.

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It's the first time a Mid-American Conference team has beaten two Big Ten foes during the same regular season, and the Huskies (4-0) made it look easy, tying the MAC record for victory margin over a Big Ten school. Toledo beat Minnesota by 31 in 2001.

Northern Illinois scored on its first four series, forced five turnovers and led 27-10 at the half as Lynch became the 26th player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to top 4,000 yards passing and 2,000 rushing in his career. He was 18 of 25 and had nine carries for 35 yards and a score.

Purdue (1-4, 0-1) was so bad, coach Darrell Hazell yanked starting quarterback Rob Henry and inserted true freshman Danny Etling late in the first half.

Things weren't supposed to be this tough for Purdue, especially as it faced one of the nation's worst defenses.

But the Boilermakers were just awful. Their first drive stalled after an offensive pass interference call, two more were stymied with the help of illegal formation and illegal shift penalties and two more ended with interceptions off of poor throws.

Northern Illinois, meanwhile, took full advantage of the miscues after trailing 7-3 early.

Lynch, the Heisman Trophy hopeful, connected on five straight passes, eventually hooking up with Da'Ron Brown on a 15-yard TD pass to give the Huskies a 10-7 lead. They never trailed again.

Two series later, Lynch was back at it. He opened a 67-yard TD drive with a 41-yard completion to Juwan Brescacin and capped it with 4-yard TD pass that was ruled incomplete on the field but overturned on a replay review. That made it 20-7.

For Purdue, it got even worse.

When Shane Mikesky tipped a high pass from Henry into the air, Dechane Durante picked it off and returned it 50 yards to the Purdue 29. Four plays later, Lynch found a wide open Brown for a 17-yard TD pass.

Henry was picked off again on the next drive, this time throwing across his body from the right sideline. That was it for the senior quarterback, who was finished 5 of 16 for 130 yards and one TD, and the start of the Etling era, who led Purdue to a field goal just before halftime.

But Tommylee Lewis opened the second half with a 99-yard kickoff return for a score and Jimmy Ward picked off Etling and ran it back 62 yards for a score to give Northern Illinois a 41-10 lead early in the third.

Purdue never challenged again.

Northern Illinois has won 11 straight on the road and scored a MAC record 55 points against a Big Ten school, breaking Ball State's previous mark (41) last year at Indiana.

Etling finished 19 of 39 for 241 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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