DeKALB – According to Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, Tommylee Lewis has been asking to throw the ball for three years.
The Huskies practice an option pass play with Lewis as the quarterback. Throughout the junior receiver’s time at NIU, he’s made an impact catching the ball, returning kicks and running the ball on jet sweeps.
In Saturday’s 59-20 win over Eastern Michigan, Lewis finally got to show off his arm. With the Huskies up, 21-3, in the second quarter, Lynch handed the ball off to Lewis, who was lined up in the backfield. Lewis rolled right and hit Lynch down the left sideline. Lynch made the grab, maneuvered his way around five Eagles defenders and barrelled his way into the end zone.
“It’s fun to do something like that, to act like a receiver,” Lynch said. “Any time you bust out a trick play, it’s fun.”
In the win, Lynch became the first FBS player since Ohio quarterback Boo Jackson in 2010 to run, pass and catch a touchdown. Lynch threw for four touchdowns and ran for another in addition to the first TD catch of his career.
Lewis showed off in multiple phases, as well.
The junior caught eight passes for 107 yards – including a 41-yard catch at the end of the first half that set up a Mathew Sims field goal. He also had four carries for 81 yards and made a key block down the sideline on Lynch’s 30-yard touchdown run.
The jet sweeps have been a consistent staple of NIU’s offense this season and Lewis is averaging 14 yards per rush this year.
Blocking on the inside and outside has to be key for the plays to work, and it was the case Saturday.
“All credit goes to our blocking on the outside,” Lewis said. “They opened up holes and I just ran right through them.”
NIU coach Rod Carey wants to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers, and Lewis certainly qualifies as one.
“Tommy’s earned the right. There are some other guys like [wide receivers] Da’Ron Brown, Angelo Sebastiano, Juwan Brescacin, the running backs and tight ends, they earned the right to have the ball in their hands and so we put it in their hands, and let them do their deal,” Carey said. “Football isn’t that complicated, you let your good players have the football in their hands.”