Created:Saturday, April 21, 2012 6:14 p.m.CDT
Updated:Sunday, April 22, 2012 11:51 p.m.CDT
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The Natural: Lynch shines at scrimmage

By STEVE NITZ - snitz@shawmedia.com
Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch carries the ball during the Huskies' spring game Saturday in DeKalb. (Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)

DeKALB – Northern Illinois wide receiver Tommylee Lewis huddled with reporters Saturday after the Huskies’ spring game.

When asked about quarterback Jordan Lynch, Lewis had a big smile on his face and called Lynch “a natural.”

Lynch, a junior who sat behind four-year starter and 2011 Mid-American Conference MVP Chandler Harnish for two seasons, showed why Lewis would say that during NIU’s annual end of spring scrimmage.

Showing poise and consistency in the pocket while playing with the first-team offense, Lynch completed 29 of 44 passes for 402 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions as the Red squad defeated the White, 31-6.

“Jordan’s just a natural. He’s just a natural,” said Lewis, who caught seven of Lynch’s passes for 98 yards. “He’s going to go out and have fun and play ball.”

Lynch was able to sit back and make a number of different throws. He hit sophomore tight end Luke Eakes on a wheel route for his third touchdown, and was able to find running back Akeem Daniels on the sideline for a 75-yard score.

“I think the questions people [had] about his arm strength got answered [Saturday],” NIU coach Dave Doeren said. “He threw the ball extremely well.”

Eakes, Daniels, Leighton Settle and Martel Moore all caught touchdown passes from Lynch.

Perez Ashford had three catches for 54 yards for the Huskies’ first-team Red squad. Moore caught four balls for 18 yards and Eakes had three receptions for 77 yards.

“Those guys, they know the offense. They help me a lot with some of the things, what they see on the field,” Lynch said of his skill players. “When in doubt, just throw the ball up to them. They make me right most of the time, like you saw [Saturday].”

When Doeren watched Lynch throw, he saw someone he described as “relaxed.”

After Harnish was injured during the Huskies’ GoDaddy.com Bowl win in January, Lynch took over and completed 4 of 4 passes for 64 yards.

To Doeren, that experience couldn’t have been any better for the Chicago native, who will be NIU’s starting quarterback when the Huskies open the 2012 season Sept. 1 against Iowa at Soldier Field.

“The best thing for Jordan was Chandler getting hurt last year in the bowl game, and having to come in and lead our team,” Doeren said. “So now, this is his team. We went in right there, I said ‘This is your team. It’s going to be your team next year, it’s your team now.’ “

While Lynch left his mark at quarterback Saturday, there wasn’t a running back that was able to step in and make an impact.

Daniels led the Red team with nine carries for 29 yards. Settle finished with two carries for 5 yards, and Jamal Womble had two for 4 yards. Cameron Stingily carried the ball three times for minus-1 yard.

“At running back I thought all those guys struggled. We practiced a lot better at running back than we played [Saturday],” Doeren said. “That was probably my biggest disappointment.”

Doeren did like what he saw from NIU’s starting defense, which didn’t allow a touchdown. Defensive linemen Frank Boenzi and Joe Windsor had sacks, and the line consistently pressured second-string quarterback Matt McIntosh.

“We wanted our starting defense to play well and they definitely accomplished that,” Doeren said. “I thought they were outstanding today. We wanted to see us tackle well, and we did.”

Will the NIU football team play for the MAC title this year?
Yes
No
Too soon to tell