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Boiling Point

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Northern Illinois makes history in rout of Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE - Purdue might have fixed some of its offensive issues during a 55-24 loss to Northern Illinois on Saturday at Ross-Ade stadium.

But as the scoreline suggests, the Boilermakers (1-4) couldn't stop Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch.

The senior put up four total touchdowns and 242 yards of total offense in the win, which gave Purdue its first 1-4 start since 2009 and made NIU (4-0) the first Mid-American Conference school to win two games against Big Ten opponents in the same season.

There were other unenviable firsts, too. The Purdue loss was the largest margin of defeat for a Big Ten school against a MAC opponent in conference history, and NIU put up the most points against a Big Ten program of any MAC team in history. The Huskies became the highest-scoring team in Ross-Ade Stadium history, topping Indiana and Notre Dame, which both scored 52 points in West Lafayette.

It all started with Lynch, who was sensational from the start.

The dual-threat quarterback didn't use his legs much in the first half, with only 28 yards on eight attempts. But he found a rhythm in the passing game and completed 16 of 20 throws, including two touchdown throws to redshirt junior wide receiver Da'Ron Brown.

Purdue fifth-year senior quarterback Rob Henry, after a good start to the game, went sour. Henry was 5 for 16 in the first half with two interceptions, including one in the end zone and another as the Boilermakers drove into NIU territory. He also fumbled.

Freshman quarterback Danny Etling began warming up on the sidelines after Henry's second pick, and he got the call on the ensuing drive. The move reenergized the crowd, as did completions on Etling's first two plays and a 47-yard field goal from kicker Paul Griggs with eight seconds to go in the half.

That hope dwindled quickly.

NIU started the second half with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by junior receiver Tommylee Lewis to give the Huskies a 34-10 lead, and the short spark provided by Etling gave way to reality.

The 6-foot-3 Terre Haute native went 2 for 7 on his next two drives and threw an interception to senior safety Jimmie Ward that he returned 62 yards for a score with 9:23 left in the third quarter.

Etling, who became the first true freshman to take a snap at quarterback since Sean Robinson in 2010, settled in after the pick and got the first touchdown throw of his career, a 16-yard toss to redshirt freshman wide receiver Cameron Posey.

Etling finished the game 19 of 39 with two touchdowns and two interceptions, as well as 241 passing yards.

While there was some promise in his play, six turnovers and Lynch's numbers were too much to overcome.

On the next drive, the 6-foot quarterback tacked on a 7-yard run for his fourth score and a 48-17 NIU lead. Lynch exited the game with just under 12 minutes to play, and backups rounded out the action for the Huskies.

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