(Saturday, November 20th)
Final Score: Northern Illinois 59, Ball State 21
Muncie, IN (Sports Network) - Chad Spann ran for 81 yards and three touchdowns, as the Northern Illinois Huskies locked up the MAC West Division with a 59-21 trouncing of the Ball State Cardinals at Scheumann Stadium.
The win was the eighth in a row for the Huskies (9-2, 7-0 MAC), who will represent the conference's West Division in the MAC Championship at Ford Field on December 3rd. Chandler Harnish completed 15-of-22 passes for 247 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception in the victory.
Ball State (4-8, 3-5) saw its modest two-game win streak come to an end, despite a pair of rushing touchdowns by Eric Williams. Jack Tomlinson headlined the receiving corps with six catches for 106 yards and a TD.
NIU marched right down the field on the game's opening drive, and Harnish found Nathan Palmer for a 37-yard touchdown strike to stake the Huskies and early 7-0 lead.
Later in the first quarter, NIU's Jordan Delegal blocked a punt and teammate Jimmie Ward scooped it up and darted 15 yards to the end zone, making it a 14-0 game.
A fumble by Harnish set the Cardinals up with the ball on the NIU 7 in the final minute of the first quarter, and Williams capitalized with a two-yard touchdown run for Ball State.
The rest of the opening half belonged to the Huskies, as Harnish once again hooked up with Palmer for a 47-yard scoring strike to extend the lead to 21-7 with 11:02 to play until halftime.
Spann's two-yard touchdown run at the 6:09 mark of the second quarter made it a 28-7 game, capping a seven-play, 55-yard drive.
Spann scored again on a seven-yard run with 47 seconds remaining in the half, as the Huskies went to the locker room with a 35-7 lead at intermission.
Ball State opened the second half with a nine-play, 80-yard drive, punctuated by Williams' second touchdown run of the game, this time from three yards.
The Cardinals made it a 35-21 game on Kelly Page's 80-yard touchdown strike to Tomlinson at the 6:59 mark of the third quarter.
But from there it was all NIU. Four plays later, Spann found the end zone again on a 12-yard run.
Huskies' kicker Michael Cklamovski tacked on a 40-yard field goal to close out the third quarter with NIU leading, 45-21.
Early in the fourth quarter, NIU's Tyrone Clark stepped in front of a Page pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown to give the Huskies a 52-21 lead.
Huskies' backup QB Jordan Lynch made it a 59-21 game with 9:36 to play, tossing a four-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Skarb.
NIU enjoyed a 442-268 edge in total offense for the game. The Huskies will aim for a perfect 8-0 finish in league play when they travel to Eastern Michigan next weekend.
11/20 15:58:59 ET