NCAA NIU’s streak ends against Iowa

Posted on September 1, 2012. Filed under: NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Huskies come up short and ends streak…

September 1, 2012

The Huskies winning streak of nine is over as the Hawkeyes come into Soldier Field a snagging a victory 18-17.

Iowa has struggled in the red zone all day. They settled for third field goals, by John Wienke, including a 50-yarder in the fourth making the score 17-12 with 9:33 left. They made it a contest and took the lead in the fourth on a third and 8 – instead of throwing the ball, they ran the ball power right with Damon Bullock for 23 yards and the touchdown which became the game winner.

“Greg (Davis, Offensive Coordinator for Iowa) pulled it out of his pocket at an opportune moment,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It was a huge play because, clearly, up until that point our biggest issue was getting into the end zone and we didn’t have much success doing that.”

Wienke played a big part in the win by by landing a punt inside the 1-yard line with 5:36 to play. Bullock finished with 151 yards on 30 carries.

“It was a good play call by them,” NIU coach Dave Doeren said after the game. “obviously we could have executed better. We worked in a pass defense. We knew we were in a zone {defense}, and we just didn’t hit. It was a defense that worked real well throughout the game for us.”

At the half, the Huskies had a 10-6 lead which came from a seven yard run by “true” freshmen Keith Harris Jr. (Chicago-Leo high school) in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes nailed two field goals by Mike Meyers: one for 34 yards, the other was from 29.

In the third, QB Jordan Lynch (Chicago Mount Carmel alum) sprinted down the field for a 73-yard touchdown run in the third quarter making the score Huskies 17, Hawkeyes 6 with 9:43 left. But that was it as the Hawkeyes defense stop them consistently down the stretch.

“They had a good game plan coming into it,” Lynch said. “We had receivers open, I just tried to make throws, tried to make plays. We had a few drops that hurt us. When it comes down to it, I’ve just got to make the throws.”

Lynch finished his first start as quarterback 6-for-16 54 yards in the air, and 136 yards on the ground.

Paid attendance of 52,117 at Soldier Field today.

Just for kicks: Iowa’s Mike Meyer tied a school record with four field goals, including a 50-yarder.

The Huskies are host to Tennessee-Martin on Saturday.

More stats can be found at http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/boxscore?gid=201209010042.

PREGAME NOTES
The Northern Illinois Huskies played host to Iowa at historic Solder Field in Chicago on September 1 to kickoff their season. It is the second straight season, and third time overall, that NIU has played at the landmark stadium. NIU returns 14 starters on offense and defense, including two players, LB Tyrone Clark and TE Jason Schepler, who were starters in the 2010 but missed last season. The Huskies entered the 2012 season with the longest winning streak in the nation at the FBS level after winning their last nine games of 2011 including the MAC Championship game and the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl.

Coming into this contest, the NIU players used the word “boost” multiple times during the Tuesday’s news conference. They were referring to the fast start they want to get off to in today’s game against Iowa at Soldier Field.

“It gives the team a boost,” defensive end Sean Progar said. “Coming out fast is very important, especially for our team with our offense.”

The last time they played a Big Ten team — Wisconsin at Soldier Field last season — it was anything but a fast start for NIU. The Badgers led 28-7 at halftime and scored 42 unanswered points on their way to a 49-7 victory.

Progar said a lot of players weren’t playing the way they could have.

This year’s Iowa team isn’t as talented as last year’s Wisconsin team, which played in the Rose Bowl. Hawkeyes quarterback James Vandenberg is good, but he’s not Russell Wilson. None of Iowa’s running backs compares to Montee Ball.

Still, the Huskies don’t want to put themselves in a hole early. NIU coach Dave Doeren stressed the need for a strong start.

“I don’t know if we need a ­statement as much as we need to be in the game. I don’t want to look up and see 21-0,” Doeren said. “I think if we can play with them and not beat ourselves, that’s a huge key.”

NIU brings in a nine-game winning streak, and Doeren wants to see a team that isn’t going to beat itself and let the game get out of hand.

“To me, the best start for us would be just playing good football and not beating ourselves. Just keep doing that and tell our players to make plays,” Doeren said.

One of NIU’s goals is to beat a BCS conference team and this year they have two chances — Saturday and Sept. 22 against Kansas at Huskie Stadium.

NIU last beat a BCS team in 2010, when the Huskies went to Minneapolis and took down Minnesota. NIU also won at Purdue in 2009.

However, the Huskies are 0-7 all-time against Iowa. The Hawkeyes defeated NIU 16-13 in 2007 at Soldier Field and got a 24-14 win in 2006 at Kinnick Stadium.

In addition, NIU has a new quarterback under the snap – Jordan Lynch.

It’s been years since Northern Illinois had a quarterback not named Chandler Harnish see consistent playing time at quarterback.

The south side Mount Carmel alum junior has bided his time since arriving at NIU in the fall of 2009. He redshirted that first season, but saw some game action as the team’s Wildcat quarterback in 2010 and 2011. In the GoDaddy.com Bowl victory over Arkansas State, he was able to lead NIU on a touchdown drive when Harnish was out with a tweaked ankle.

“I always prepared as if I was the starter the past three years,” Lynch said. “The feeling’s great. I love that pressure to become the starter and guys looking up to you. I love taking that leadership role.”

Mount Carmel is the same school that produced Donovan McNabb, who went on to Syracuse University and to the NFL (Philadelphia and Minnesota).

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