Lynch leads comeback drive, NIU beats W. Michigan 24-21
Justin Lynch ran in from 8 yards out to give NIU a lead in the final minute of a 24-21 win at Western Michigan on Wednesday.
The Huskies improved to 3-6 with the win and 2-3 in MAC play. The win also eliminated Western Michigan (2-7, 1-4) from bowl contention.
Here are five take-aways from the win:
Lynch leads comeback drive
Freshman quarterback Nevan Cremascoli made his first career start at quarterback, but threw 3 interceptions. After the final interception in the fourth quarter, Justin Lynch took over the main play-calling duties. He was in for the entirety of the final drive, with the Huskies down 21-17 and taking over with 3:13 left at their own 27.
On the first play, he broke off a 57-yard run, and ran four times on the five-play scoring drive, culminating in his 9-yard touchdown run.
The Huskie defense held on the next drive despite a roughing the passer call. But Izayah Green-May and Jashon Prophete got sacks on the final series and stopped the Broncos drive.
Answering the call after a big run
After the Huskies gave up a late touchdown in the first half, Western Michigan got the ball to start the second half. Sean Tyler broke off a 50-yard run, the longest run the Huskies have given up all year.
But two plays later, Ester sacked Treyson Bourguet and forced a fumble, recovered by Green-May.
The offense took advantage, scoring on the next drive on a 1-yard run by Jaiden Credel for a 17-14 NIU lead. The defense again held and got the offense the ball back, but this time Cremascoli was intercepted, and Western Michigan answered with a scoring drive to take a 21-17 lead with 3:25 left in the third quarter.
Relying on Richardson
With Cremascoli making his first career start, the freshman found Liam Soraghan and Tristan Tewes for big passes, but fellow freshman Credle -- starting due to the absence of Harrison Waylee, Antario Brown and Mason Blakemore -- was slow getting things started and the drive stalled out.
John Richardson connected for a 53-yard field goal to stake the Huskies to an early 3-0 lead. The defense forced a three-and-out, then the Huskies got more production out of Credle. They were going to go for a fourth-and-2 but jumped, bringing Richardson back in. This time, he missed the 46-yarder.
Western Michigan capitalized with a touchdown on the next drive to claim its first lead.
Interception sidelines offense
On the third play of NIU's third drive, Cremascoli was intercepted. The Huskie offense stalled out on the next two drives, with both ending with a pair of punts.
They ran nine plays on those two drives, throwing the ball only twice. Credle got all but one of the carries, including the lone first down for an 11-yard run.
The defense, however, held both times. WMU had a touchdown called back due to an ineligible man downfield, ended up settling for a field-goal attempt, and missed it. The Broncos went three-and-out on the next drive, with Green-May coming up with a sack to end the drive.
Switch field position, get a score finally
After Green-May's sack, the Huskies took over with a short field on the Western Michigan 40 and the passing game returned. Cremascoli started the drive with a 20-yard pass to Tewes, then after two short Credle runs, Cremascoli found Cole Tucker in stride in the end zone on a perfect pass, giving the Huskies the lead back with 3:34 left in the first half.
But the Broncos put together a late scoring drive to regain the lead before halftime, benefiting from two pass interference calls, both on Prophete. Sean Tyler capped the drive with a 2-yard scoring run and a 14-10 Western Michigan lead at the break.