DeKALB – For once, Northern Illinois didn’t have to sweat out the fourth quarter.
Saturday’s game against Buffalo was over long before the clock hit zero to end the game.
The Huskies had a strong performance through the final play of the contest, when NIU junior defensive tackle Zach Anderson forced a fumble, which was recovered by cornerback Jhony Faustin at the NIU 4-yard line.
It was a dominant game for the Huskies, who got a 45-3 victory on homecoming.
“It’s great to start fast, play consistent throughout, come out in the fourth quarter, start fast again and then finish,” Doeren said. “You talk about finish, our third-string defense forced a fumble at the goal line, that was awesome. Really excited about that.
“I just think that’s a statement to what’s going on here when your backups can come in and make a play like that at the end.”
Lynch was impressive once again, going 13 of 20 passing for 232 yards and two touchdowns, and running for another 129 yards and two touchdowns. With the game in hand, Lynch was on the sideline during the entire fourth quarter.
He was in a rhythm with senior wide receiver Martel Moore, who caught eight passes for 133 yards with a touchdown.
On his TD catch, Moore dragged two Buffalo defenders 10 yards into the end zone.
“The squats are paying off,” Moore joked. “... I was hungry for the end zone and I knew that we needed a new start in the third quarter. I knew if I scored that touchdown, we could really kick off.”
The NIU (6-1, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) defense didn’t let the Buffalo (1-5, 0-3 MAC) offense into the end zone as the Huskies held a team to no touchdowns for the first time since 2010. The Bulls didn’t have star running back Branden Oliver, which certainly helped the Huskies’ case. Oliver didn’t play for the third consecutive game because of a knee injury.
Buffalo (1-5, 0-3 MAC) true freshman tailback Devin Campbell, who ran for 160 yards in last week’s loss to Ohio, was held to just 36 yards on 22 carries Saturday.
The Bulls used quarterback Alex Zordich in the run game, but he didn’t do much either, gaining just 47 yards on 13 carries.
Coming into the game, Buffalo was a perfect 13 for 13 in the red zone. In Saturday’s game, the Bulls went just 1 for 4, turning the ball over three times.
“They were one of only three teams in college football that was 100 percent in the red zone and we held them to 25 percent in the red zone,” Doeren said. “So what’s that say about our defense? They’re mentally tough, they make plays.”
NIU continues MAC crossover play next week, when the Huskies head to Akron.