Northern Illinois Picks Off Hawkeyes At Kinnick, 30-27
By Marc Morehouse and Scott Saville
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Marlon Moore's pick of Jake Rudock set up Mathew Sims' 36 FG with four seconds left, and the Northern Illinois Huskies beat Iowa, 30-27.
Iowa has now lost seven in a row.
The first half turned out to be a bit of a QB duel. In his first career start, Jake Rudock went 13 of 21 for 188 yards and a TD. Northern Illinios QB Jordan Lynch, who finished seventh in the Heisman voting last season, was 12 of 18 for 140 yards and 2 TDs.
Rudock scored on a 6-yard run with 53 seconds left before halftime to lift Iowa to the lead. The Hawkeyes had 302 yards total offense in the first half. They averaged 310.4 yards a game last season.
The Huskies played in the Orange Bowl last season and didn't flinch walking into Kinnick Stadium.
Lynch engineered a 10-0 lead as NIU capitalized on a Mark Weisman fumble, with Mathew Sims connecting on a 47-yard field goal with 7:33 left in the first quarter.
After Iowa punter Connor Kornbrath shanked a punt 16 yards to set up NIU at the 50, Lynch found wide receiver Tommylee Lewis for a 40-yard TD and a 10-0 lead with 3:47 left in the first half. There was no pass rush. Lee put a triple move on Iowa corner Jordan Lomax and it was an easy pitch and catch.
It was really "uh oh" time. An Iowa drive burned out at NIU's 36. Lynch moved the Huskies to the Iowa 49. He then completed a pass to tight end Luke Eakes.Outside linebacker Christian Kirksey, on his birthday, took it from there.
Eakes took a couple of steps with the ball, and Kirksey crushed him and popped out the ball. The ball took a nice bounce.
Kirksey scooped it and scored from 48 yards out. Happy birthday, 21st birthday, Christian Kirksey.
Iowa followed up with a forced three-and-out and then the offense showed up.The Hawkeyes went on a methodical 13-play, 55-yard drive that chewed up 5:47 and came away with Mike Meyer's 28-yard field goal to tie it 10-10 with 8:24 left before halftime.
Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis went back and maybe found the highlight of the 2012 offense a flea flicker to WR Jordan Cotton. After another NIU three-and-out, Rudock hit Cotton on a first-down flicker. Three plays later, Rudock threw an alley-oop to 6-7 tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz for an 11-yard TD and 17-10 lead with 6:32 left in the half.
Iowa wasn't going to keep Lynch down. The Huskies found favorable matchups twice, isolating linebacker Anthony Hitchens twice in coverage. The first went to Angelo Sebastiano for 18 yards and a first down on third-and-4. The second was to Lewis for a 21-yard TD with Hitchens in trail position.
Iowa answered on the next drive. NIU defensive end Stephen O'Neal was hit with a personal foul for playing without a helmet. That added 15 yards to a 15-yard pass to WR Kevonte Martin-Manley. Rudock finished the drive with a 6-yard scramble and Iowa took a 24-17 lead into halftime.