Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch accounted for 369 total yards and keyed a furious fourth quarter rally as NIU topped Kansas, 30-23, at Huskie Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Huskies’ dynamic signal caller threw for 235 yards and rushed for a career-best 134 yards – his third 100-yard game on the ground this season – but more importantly helped NIU (3-1) score 17 unanswered points to surge past Kansas (1-3) in the fourth quarter.
After a tightly contested first three quarters, Kansas created some wiggle room on as Tyler Patmon intercepted Lynch and ran it in from 33 yards out early in the fourth quarter. The return marked KU’s 13th forced turnover of the season, was Patmon’s first career touchdown and gave the Jayhawks a 23-13 lead. The lead was short-lived however.
Lynch hit Martel Moore for a 65-yard touchdown on the Huskies first play from scrimmage and pulled the team within a field goal just 10 seconds after the miscue. Mathew Sims knocked through a game-tying, 44-yard field goal with just under eight minutes to play and Leighton Settle capped the fourth quarter rally with a go-ahead, two-yard plunge with 4:33 left.
NIU’s defense also tightened up in the fourth quarter, holding KU scoreless on four offensive drives and forced two three-and-outs and a turnover on downs on the last three drives. Kansas struggled to convert on third down throughout the game, going 4-for-16 (25 percent) and failed to convert on four third down conversions in the final frame.
Seven different Jayhawks logged carries in the game but it was senior James Sims who found the end zone for the Jayhawks. Sims, in his first game after serving a three-game suspension to start the year, rushed for a team-high 91 yards on 18 carries and gave KU a 10-6 lead with a 26 yard run in the second quarter. The touchdown snapped a six-quarter drought by the KU offense, which previously reached the end zone in the third quarter against Rice.
Sims added another touchdown late in the third quarter, prior to Patmon’s interception and part of a 10-point swing to give KU a two-score lead. Kansas rushers combined for 179 yards on 45 carries. Jayhawk quarterback Dayne
Crist completed 10-of-26 passes for 147 yards and was sacked four times. Kansas linebackers Ben Heeney (12) and Anthony McDonald (11) led the defense in tackles, with Patmon logging the lone takeaway.
Kansas enters a bye week before resuming Big 12 Conference competition on the road against Kansas State on Oct. 6.