N. Illinois stuns Iowa 30-27
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
By LUKE MEREDITH
AP Sports Writer
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Mathew Sims hit a 36-yard field goal with four seconds left and Northern Illinois rallied to beat Iowa 30-27 on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
Jordan Lynch threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns for the Huskies, who scored 10 points in the final 5:05 to record their first win over the Hawkeyes.
Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward intercepted Iowa's Jake Rudock with 1:17 left. He brought it to the Hawkeyes 30-yard line, setting up the game-winning kick from Sims.
Rudock threw for 256 yards, a touchdown and two picks in his debut for Iowa, which lost its seventh straight game dating back to last season.
The Hawkeyes also lost their first opener since 2000.
For most of the afternoon, the Hawkeyes did a decent job containing the explosive Lynch - who last season became the first Football Bowl Subdivision quarterback to throw for over 3,000 yards and rush for more than 1,500.
But Lynch showed why he's among the nation's best quarterbacks with the outcome in doubt.
He engineered a 6-play, 75-yard drive in just 1:37, tying the game at 27 with a 33-yard TD pass to Da'Ron Brown with 5:05 left in the fourth quarter.
Still, the Hawkeyes had a good shot at a close win - only to blow it yet again.
Iowa had the ball at their own 45 with 1:24 left when Ward jumped a route and collected the crucial interception. Cameron Stingily picked up 11 yards on the ground to set up an easy kick for Sims.
The Hawkeyes lost four games by four points or less last season. Despite an improved showing for its defense, Iowa again lost in agonizing fashion.
Iowa had been anxiously eyeing its opener for nine months after finishing last season with a 4-8 record, its worst since 2000.
But the Hawkeyes picked up right where they left off.
Northern Illinois opened the scoring with a field goal. Tommylee Lewis then used a double move to beat a pair of Hawkeyes on a 40-yard TD pass from Lynch, making it 10-0 late in the first quarter.
It took a stellar solo effort to get the Hawkeyes back in the game.
Senior linebacker Christian Kirksey drilled Luke Eakes in the open field, forcing a fumble he took 52 yards for a touchdown that got Iowa back within 10-7.
A Mike Meyer field goal tied it at 10-10, and C.J. Fiedorowicz's 11-yard TD grab - set up by a 53-yard flea flicker from Rudock to Jordan Cotton - made it 17-10.
Northern Illinois and Iowa swapped touchdowns to end the half, as the Hawkeyes led 24-17 at the break.
The Huskies stunned Iowa with a fake punt near the end of the third quarter, reaching the Hawkeyes 9-yard line. But the Hawkeyes held from there, forcing a 25-yard field goal from Sims that pulled the Huskies within 24-20.
Meyer answered with a 44-yarder to make it 27-20 with 6:42 left.
Lewis, who scored both first-half touchdowns for the Huskies, was carried off the field after an apparent left foot injury on the first play of the second half.
The Huskies certainly missed Lewis, but Lynch was there to carry them to their 22nd win in their last 24 games.
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Updated August 31, 2013
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