FOXBOROUGH — The UMass football team faced its toughest test of the season when it hosted No. 21 Northern Illinois at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
UMass had no answer for quarterback Jordan Lynch, the Huskies’ dual-threat signal-caller, who rushed for 119 yards and four touchdowns, and passed for 160 yards and one score, as Northern Illinois thrashed UMass, 63-19.
NIU (9-0, 5-0 Mid-American Conference) won its 15th consecutive road game, the second-longest current streak in the country, and 22d straight overall in the conference, the longest current stretch in the country.
The Minutemen (1-8, 1-4) now enter a bye week, before facing Akron to close out a three-game homestand.
UMass’s Brendon Levengood kicked 42- and 46-yard (career long) field goals on the Minutemen’s first two possessions, but Lynch answered with a pair of touchdown runs to give NIU a 14-6 lead in the first quarter.
The Minutemen went three-and-out on their next possession, and a shanked punt gave NIU the ball at the UMass 44. The Huskies scored in less than two minutes, as Lynch ran three times for 36 yards, and capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown run through a gaping hole between the hash marks.
On UMass’s next possession, quarterback Mike Wegzyn was intercepted by NIU defensive tackle Ken Bishop, who returned it to the 6. Cameron Stingily then rushed for a 6-yard score to make it 28-6.
Wegzyn bounced back by going 2 for 3 on UMass’s next possession for 44 yards. He connected with Tajae Sharp for 24 yards to get to the NIU 48, and then freshman running back Lorenzo Woodley picked up 25 yards to get to the 23. Wegzyn hit Sharpe again, this time for 20 yards, and Woodley capped the drive with a 1-yard score to cut the deficit to 28-13 with 9:41 remaining in the first half.
But UMass’s defensive troubles only snowballed, as NIU rattled off two more touchdowns before the half for a 42-13 lead, including a 66-yard pass from Lynch to Juwan Brescacin.
Lynch added his fourth rushing touchdown, an 11-yarder to give NIU a 49-13 lead with 10:21 to play in the third quarter.
Levengood, who tied a UMass record with four field goals made, converted from 44 and 40 yards later in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Lynch’s backup, freshman Drew Hare, hit Chad Beebe for an 81-yard score and rushed for a 47-yard touchdown.