Jordan Lynch mercifully is done tormenting the University of Toledo football team.
Northern Illinois’ terrorizing senior quarterback will never again lower the boom on another Rockets defensive back.
Keith Wenning won’t be heard from again, either. The Ball State signal caller soon will don a tassel and gown and is likely to graduate to the NFL.
The past two seasons, Toledo is 0-4 against the Mid-American Conference’s two premier quarterbacks and 11-0 against all other league comers. That glaring discrepancy led to a couple of third-place finishes in the West division, the latter secured Wednesday in a 35-17 loss to Lynch and the 20th-ranked Huskies.
The Rockets scored a bunch of points and made a bunch of good memories the past two years, but they never figured out how to slow the arm of Wenning or the arm and feet of Lynch. That burden no longer exists, which should increase Toledo’s chances a year from now in its chase for the elusive division title.
Next Friday’s regular season-finale at Akron awaits the Rockets, who probably will land in a bowl game with a win. Securing a 13th game though would register as merely another consolation prize in a growing collection delivered courtesy of a couple prolific quarterbacks.
Wenning engineered winning fourth-quarter drives against Toledo the past two years. Lynch accumulated 932 total yards and six touchdowns, with three scores coming after halftime Wednesday to help erase a 10-7 deficit.
“He’s a special player,” Toledo coach Matt Campbell said. “He’s elusive, he makes plays, he’s strong. He doesn’t wear down. I think that’s the difference right now between him and us. He never wore down in the game and we did.”
Lynch accounted for 62 rushing yards on a 99-yard, third-quarter drive. On the 15th play, he ran in from a yard out for a 28-17 lead.
For the second straight year, Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens committed three turnovers against NIU. He fumbled on the first play of the game and threw an interception on his first pass.
Neither miscue was a major indictment on Owens, who lost control of the ball when his hand bumped into a defender who had busted through Toledo’s line. The interception was a result of a magnificent catch by defensive back Jimmie Ward.
The third turnover lacks justification. On third-and-goal from the NIU 2, someone — Campbell says it was him — ordered a goal-line jump pass by freshman running back Kareem Hunt. Hunt probably could have walked in, but instead lobbed the ball over the line of scrimmage and into the hands of linebacker Boomer Mays. Campbell ceded “we got too cute.”
Owens threw another pick in the fourth quarter, this time with the game out of hand.
“In the offseason obviously we have to find out what we’re screwing up because this feeling is miserable,” guard Greg Mancz said. “I can’t stand it. It’s been four years of bad feelings.”