Northern Illinois running back Keith Harris Jr. carries the ball against Purdue during an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind. on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/The Journal & Courier, Brent Drinkut)
NIU 55, PURDUE 24
NIU 10 17 21 7 — 55
Purdue 7 3 7 7 — 24
NIU—FG Sims 44, 8:46.
PUR—A.Hunt 44 pass from Henry (Griggs kick), 6:13.
NIU—D.Brown 15 pass from Lynch (Sims kick), 4:10.
NIU—FG Sims 31, 13:39.
NIU—Brescacin 4 pass from Lynch (Sims kick), 10:32.
NIU—D.Brown 17 pass from Lynch (Sims kick), 5:04.
PUR—FG Griggs 47, :03.
NIU—Lewis 99 kickoff return (Sims kick), 15:00.
NIU—Ward 62 interception return (Sims kick), 9:23.
PUR—Posey 16 pass from Etling (Griggs kick), 7:04.
NIU—Lynch 7 run (Sims kick), 2:37.
NIU—Semisch 18 pass from McIntosh (Sims kick), 8:14.
PUR—Sinz 1 pass from Etling (Griggs kick), 5:27.
TEAM STATS NIU PUR
First downs 22 29
Rushes-yards 36-177 30-153
Passing 225 371
Comp-Att-Int 19-26-0 24-55-4
Return Yards 125 13
Punts-Avg. 4-42.8 4-43.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 5-45 7-58
Time of Possession 27:45 32:15
RUSHING—NIU, Stingily 15-72, Lynch 9-35, Spencer 6-31, Harris 3-24, McIntosh 2-11, Lewis 1-4. Purdue, Knauf 2-41, A.Hunt 11-37, Henry 5-26, Dawkins 3-17, Mostert 1-9, Sinz 1-9, Etling 6-9, Cottom 1-5.
PASSING—NIU, Lynch 18-25-0-207, McIntosh 1-1-0-18. Purdue, Etling 19-39-2-241, Henry 5-16-2-130.
RECEIVING—NIU, Brescacin 4-65, D.Brown 4-53, Lewis 3-19, Maxwell 2-27, Semisch 2-21, Harris 2-20, Eakes 1-15, Sterling 1-5. Purdue, De.Yancey 7-117, Sinz 4-39, Posey 3-67, A.Hunt 2-67, Anthrop 2-28, Knauf 2-16, Dawkins 1-12, Carter 1-11, Mikesky 1-8, Mostert 1-6.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (4-0)
Aug. 31 at Iowa W, 30-27
Sept. 14 at Idaho W, 45-35
Sept. 21 Eastern Illinois W, 43-39
Sept. 28 at Purdue W, 55-24
Oct. 5 at Kent State 2:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 Akron 4 p.m.
Oct. 19 at C. Michigan 2 p.m.
Oct. 26 E. Michigan 2:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 at UMass 11 a.m.
Nov. 13 Ball State 7 p.m.
Nov. 20 at Toledo 7 p.m.
Nov. 26 W. Michigan 6 p.m.
Updated: October 30, 2013 6:58AM
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — After last week’s victory against Eastern Illinois, Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward said his team needed to “start the fight.”
Despite starting the season unbeaten, NIU has been plagued by slow starts. That wasn’t the case Saturday afternoon, as the Huskies lit up the Ross-Ade Stadium scoreboard in a 55-24 victory against Purdue. NIU’s 31-point win tied a Mid-American Conference record for margin of victory over a Big Ten school.
“That was our mantra all week, wasn’t it Jimmie? We need to start it,” NIU coach Rod Carey said after the win, looking over at Ward during a postgame news conference. “We need to start it every week. And then we’ve got to finish it. It was a big key to the game.”
Ward had a key 62-yard interception return in the second half that put NIU up 41-10, and in the process cleared out the Purdue student section.
The victory was the most lopsided win for NIU against a Big Ten team, and it marked the first time a MAC team has beaten two Big Ten teams in the regular season. NIU beat Iowa on Aug. 31, 30-27. This is also the first time since 2003 the Huskies have started a season 4-0, and swept their nonconference schedule.
The Huskies beat the Boilermakers with the pass, as Jordan Lynch was 18-for-25 through the air for 207 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a 7-yard rushing touchdown. Tommylee Lewis got the Huskies’ first-special teams touchdown of the season, taking the opening kickoff of the second half 99 yards for a score to put NIU up by 24.
“It definitely set the tone. All the credit goes to the 10 guys, they made all the blocks,” Lewis said. “It was definitely important to get a spark for the half.”
Ward’s interception return was the Huskies’ first defensive touchdown of the season after the defense didn’t get into the end zone in all of 2012. Ward came close to stepping out of bounds, but the play stood after being reviewed.
NIU forced five turnovers, and Boilermakers quarterback Rob Henry was pulled from the game at the end of the first half after a fumble and two interceptions, one in the red zone.
He was replaced by true freshman Danny Etling, who gave the Boilermakers a little spark, throwing two touchdown passes, but it was too little, too late.