KALAMAZOO, Mich. — For whatever reason, the second half is kind to Northern Illinois.
It was evident once again Saturday, when the Huskies scored 31 points after halftime to get a 48-34 win over Western Michigan, their eighth consecutive victory.
NIU improves to 8-1 and 5-0 in the Mid-American Conference with the victory. Western Michigan falls to 3-6 and 1-4 in MAC play.
During the first half, the Broncos chalked up yards on offense, giving the ball to running back Dareyon Chance and confusing the Huskies with their "swinging gate" set — the center, quarterback and halfback separate from the rest of the offense. NIU's defense looked sluggish. There was virtually no production from the tailback position, and everything was on Lynch.
Trailing, 21-14, in the closing seconds of the first half, Huskies head coach Dave Doeren trotted out his kicker, junior Mathew Sims, to try a 54-yard field goal. The kick barely cleared the crossbar, and Sims had himself a school record. His previous career-high was 44 yards.
"I wasn't sure he could get it there but I didn't want to throw it incomplete and walk in with no points either," Doeren said. "Just to get three points going in to have something positive to talk about (was big). Because it wasn't a very positive first half for us."
From there, the Huskies' offense rolled and the defense clamped down, holding the Broncos to 13 second-half points, all of which came when the game was already in hand.
In the second half, NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch felt the coaching staff made the right adjustments, and said the team finally executed.
"We always talk about starting fast. Credit goes to them, they stopped us in the first half and they were playing pretty good in the first half," Lynch said. "We just had to feel them out a little bit."
Lynch accounted for most of NIU's offense once again, throwing for four touchdowns and running for two. He ran for 136 yards and threw for another 274. The Huskies' junior QB was helped out by wideouts Martel Moore, Tommylee Lewis and Da'Ron Brown.
Moore finished with 120 receiving yards, while Brown and Lewis each caught two touchdown passes.
Defensively, Sean Progar had three sacks and three tackles for loss for NIU, and sophomore linebacker Jamaal Bass came up with a big 44-yard interception return in the third quarter which led to a Lynch 20-yard touchdown run.
Saturday's win was the fourth time NIU has come back in the second half to get a victory this season. Progar said the Huskies just make the right adjustments, praised and the team's ability to go out and execute.
"We're never going to give up," he said. "We put in too much work to give up, so we're definitely going to come out and give it our all the second half."