Wolfe breaks school rushing mark as No. Illinois rolls

DEKALB, Ill. (AP) -- Garrett Wolfe looked at the scoreboard near the end of the game and that's when he realized how well he had played. Then, he moved on.

Wolfe flashed the Heisman form he displayed early in the season and set Northern Illinois' career rushing record, running for 203 yards to lead the Huskies to a 31-10 victory over Central Michigan on Friday night.

"At this moment right now, I can't help but think about winning the next game," Wolfe said. "In all honesty, it's probably something I'll think about 10 years from now."

The senior now has 4,972 yards, eclipsing Michael Turner's previous mark of 4,941. And Wolfe did it in three seasons because he was academically ineligible as a redshirt freshman in 2003.

"Turner had done it in four," coach Joe Novak said. "You talk about being impressive, he did it in three years."

The nation's leader in rushing (153.3 yards per game) and all-purpose yards (176.3) entering the game, Wolfe carried 33 times and scored three touchdowns. He ran for 66 yards in the first half, with a 10-yard touchdown run on Northern's first possession and a 2-yarder on its second. And he added a 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Huskies snapped a two-game losing streak.

Sophomore Dan Nicholson completed 11-of-18 passes for 116 yards, with a touchdown and interception, after starter Phil Horvath left with a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter.

Central Michigan (7-4, 6-1 Mid-American Conference) lost its five-game winning streak. The West Division champions visit Buffalo before playing Ohio in the MAC championship game in Detroit on Nov. 30.

Dan LeFevour was 25-for-42 with 217 yards and a touchdown, but was picked off twice. He also ran for 88, but the Chippewas were no match for Northern (6-5, 4-3).

"We learned a valuable lesson about Division I-A football and how you have to come out and play every week," coach Brian Kelly said. "We did not play well tonight, but I want to be clear: Northern Illinois had a lot to do with that."

Especially Wolfe.

He performed a ballet act -- gliding through holes, spinning around defenders -- and delivered the 10th 200-yard game of his career and his third this season. He set a career high with 1,736 yards -- the third best in NIU history.

Wolfe had cooled off after setting an NCAA record with 1,181 rushing yards through the first five games and entering the Heisman Trophy discussion. Although he began the night with 1,533 yards, Wolfe had just 190 in his previous four games while playing through hamstring and shoulder problems -- problems he downplayed.

"I didn't feel any different," Wolfe said. "That's for you guys to decide, whether I looked good. I prepared the same way. I practiced the same way. I just had to do a better job of executing in situations where we had an advantage."

Wolfe opened the season with 171 yards against Ohio State on Sept. 2, ran for 263 against Buffalo on Sept. 16 and topped that two weeks later at Ball State with 353 -- the nation's season high and a school record.

He struck early on Friday.

He extended his school record when he scored his 54th touchdown on the Huskies' first possession, turning the left corner and running it in from the 10. The lead quickly grew to 14-0 after Melvin Rice intercepted LeFevour on a sideline pass near midfield, setting up a 46-yard drive that ended with Wolfe scoring untouched from the 2 with 5:31 left in the first quarter.

Central Michigan threatened twice in the second but did not score.

The Chippewas drove to the 29 early in the quarter, before Northern recovered a fumble by Damien Linson. That led to a 20-yard touchdown catch by David Koronkiewicz, which made it 21-0.

Central's Rick Albreski missed a 34-yard field goal with just under a minute left in the half. The Chippewas finally broke through a minute into the fourth, when LeFevour and Ontario Sneed connected on a 1-yard touchdown that made it 21-7.

The Huskies, trying to finish above .500 for the eighth straight year, finish the regular season at Eastern Michigan next Friday.

"That's something that coach Novak is very proud of," Wolfe said. "I don't want that to end on my watch."