IOWA CITY — New season. New quarterback. Same old frustrations.

Jake Rudock endured growing pains Saturday in his debut at quarterback for the Iowa football team, throwing a pair of second-half interceptions to help Northern Illinois rally for a 30-27 victory over the Hawkeyes at sun-baked Kinnick Stadium.

Rudock’s final mistake came with 1 minute, 17 seconds remaining when the Huskies’ Jimmie Ward picked off a pass and returned it 20 yards to the Iowa 30-yard line, setting up a game-winning, 36-yard field goal by Mathew Sims with 5 seconds left on the clock.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted it to end,’’ said Rudock, who did complete 21-of-37 passes. “About halfway in the play, I realized it was a ball I shouldn’t have thrown. It was a tough way to end the day.’’

It ended a tough second half for the Hawkeyes, who were unable to sustain offensive momentum after rallying from an early 10-0 deficit.

The Hawkeyes piled up 302 yards of offense in the first half — just under 9 yards less than Iowa averaged per game a year ago — but Iowa gained just two first downs in the third quarter to position Northern Illinois for a rally.

The outstretched arms of Rudock allowed him to score on a 6-yard run in the final minute of the first half, sending Iowa into the locker room with a 24-17 lead at halftime.

But it didn’t last.

The teams traded punts during the first 10 minutes of the third quarter before the Huskies found a spark in the form of a fake.

Tyler Wedel, making his first start as Northern Illinois’ punter, sprinted 42 yards on a fake and four plays later, Sims hit the second of his three field goals. His connection from 25 yards cut the Iowa lead to 24-20 heading into the final quarter.

“We had to find a way to make plays,’’ Huskies coach Rod Carey said. “They hemmed us up and as an offense, we had to try something to get us going.’’

The punt fake proved to do the trick.

After Iowa’s Mike Meyer connected on a 44-yard field goal with 6:42 remaining in the game, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch went to the air. A string of five straight completions ended with a 33-yard strike to Da’Ron Brown to tie the game at 27-27 with 5:05 to play.

Lynch, who gained just 14 of his 56 rushing yards in the second half, found another way to hand Iowa its seventh straight defeat.

The senior completed 25-of-41 passes for the game, throwing for 275 yards and three touchdowns.

“We weren’t going to let him beat us with his feet. We dared him to beat us with his arm and he did,’’ Iowa defensive end Dominic Alvis said. “We were hoping to make him pass the ball and give him credit, he made the plays when he had to make them.’’

And it was all sparked by the fake punt that provided Northern Illinois with the same type of momentum swing Iowa enjoyed when Christian Kirksey forced and then scooped up a fumble late in the first quarter, returning it 52 yards for a score which cut into the Huskies’ early 10-0 edge.

“We were just grinding coffee before that play,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We were struggling, just couldn’t get our footing or whatever, but plays like that spark you. That’s part of football.’’

Kirksey said he simply found himself at the right place at the right time.

“I saw the ball coming my way and I was able to get myself in a position to make the play we needed,’’ Kirksey said. “I was just trying to make something happen.’’

That worked.

Rudock connected on 8-of-11 passes in the second quarter, including an 11-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz, to send Iowa into the locker room with a seven-point lead at the half.

Ferentz said he was generally pleased with Rudock’s debut performance, but shared Rudock’s disappointment in the offense’s inability to carry momentum into the second half.

“We had a shot on a quick slant and didn’t make that one, had a sneak where we were in motion, took a shot on third-and-short and didn’t make that one and then the interception,’’ Ferentz said. “Those kind of plays, they really took the air out of our balloon.’’

And that sends Rudock back to work.

“I can’t be happy after a loss like this,’’ he said. “We worked too hard to walk out of here with this kind of outcome.’’

(13) comments

schawki

Unbelievable, am I the only one here who actually watched this game? Let's see, the offensive line was blowing holes in the defense that a truck could have driven through. Anyone who thought NIU was not going to put a lot points on the board is just living in a cave somewhere. I have read every article on the web in reference to this game that I can find, and in my opinion nobody has hit the nail on the head as to why Iowa lost this game. I see a ton of talent on this team. Unfortunately, and it will be the doom of this team until he is gone is OC Davis. Coach Fry once said "scratch where it itches". Okay at halftime time of possession favored Iowa considerable, and in the third quarter their defensive line was showing considerable wear. Our rushing offense averaged for the game 4.7 Yards per carried, and we needed to keep pounding them into exhaustion. But, noooooo, we had to make sure we threw in a Texas Longhorn bubble screen, or some other wrinkle so everyone knows he is calling the play. These things were killing our drives. Throw in the fact that Mr. Ferentz refuses to keep the pedal to the medal when Iowa is ahead just compounded a setup that allowed one mistake to cost the game. News note, If your up by several scores, as we could have easily been Mr. Davis, one mistake does not cost the game. We have football player talent, unfortunately we lack coaching talent.

Roy Munson

If anybody thinks this team is going to beat ISU, MSU, OSU, Whiskey, NW, Michigan or Nebraska they are out of their minds. 5 wins would be pretty impressive this year.

snowman05

Ohh and the Times said they should be better also! Please start reporting and not just enjoying access.

snowman05

But dolp said they would be better this year. Lol

Contemptio

This is what happens when you spend all the money on the paint job and nothing on the engine. lol

mendelmen

Fair weather fans are funny. The sky is falling the sky is falling! LOL

rmill123
rmill123

Let's get real hawk fans this is a bad football team the cubbard is bear the offense stinks the defense is OK at best hawk fans we are looking at a 2 and 10 year that's the truth and if that's the case ferents needs to go yes it is time to panic

Arc Angel

4 -8 !

rmill123
rmill123

4-8 please tell me how that is going to happen I have them going 2-10

Fred W

I have them going 7-5 (period). Unlike many (comma), I believe they're better than 4-8 (period).

snowman05

Are a few teams not going to show up and forfeit?

Meatstick

Until the great Ferentz can learn to play to win instead of hoping for a tie and OT this stuff will continue. How many fuggin games are the Hawks going to give away at the end due to brain farts and incompetence ?

Arc Angel

Panic mode!!!

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