Everything seemed to be on the upswing for the Iowa Hawkeyes after the first half, but they ended up with a zero in the win column after a Week 1 30-27 loss to Northern Illinois. It was their first loss in an opener in 12 seasons.
With 1:24 remaining in the fourth quarter Jake Rudock took a gamble and was punished by an interception that led to the game winning field goal.
“A lot of teams will come up a little bit on third and one and it was one of those and it was called to take a shot.” Rudock said.
The short out route had been picked up on almost all day, in this instance it was a second too late and Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward intercepted it. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz said after the game that it was definitely one they’d like to have back.
Rudock otherwise played well in his first career start, throwing for 256 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He summed up those two interceptions well after the game, “I was pissed.”
Jordan Lynch took advantage of a tired secondary in the second half, throwing for 275 yards three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Northern Illinois has started a Heisman campaign for him and his first showing was very impressive.
Lynch and Tommylee Lewis hooked up in stride twice, one on a 40-yard touchdown that was the kind of smoothness that Rudock will have to learn.
On both of Iowa’s long passing plays, a bomb to Damond Powell and a flea flicker to Jordan Cotton, Rudock under-threw his receivers on what otherwise would have been an easy touchdown.
Rudock said that those are the type of things that have to be worked out in practice.
Ferentz was optimistic after the game though, saying that all the mistakes were, “correctable mistakes thankfully.”
The big turning point for Northern Illinois was a fake punt that punter Tyler Wedel executed perfectly. Northern Illinois ran an option type fake punt where Wedel rushed for 42-yards and led to a field goal for Northern Illinois.
Although only three points it led to a complete momentum shift. Iowa had eight possessions in the second half, five of which ended in punts, two in interceptions and the other a field goal.
The defense played very well in the first half, with senior LB Christian Kirksey forcing a fumble and taking it to the house himself for the early momentum shift the Hawkeyes had in the second quarter.
“It’s nice to make those plays and try and help out your team, but when you lose it really doesn’t mean much. We have to go out there and perform better.” Kirksey said about the play after the game. Today was Kirksey’s 21st birthday.
The defensive line took a definite step forward this game just by being able to provide pressure on Jordan Lynch, but not enough for the secondary to not get burned multiple times.
Jordan Lomax and B.J. Lowery both were run out of energy; Lomax ending with a tweaked hamstring that he says they will take “day-by-day” and Lowery who had to be taken off twice after cramps left him beat on a route.
After over 300 yards in the first half it looked like the Hawkeyes were on their way to keeping the offense rolling and picking up their first win in seven games.
Now Iowa will carry a seven game losing streak into their game against Missouri State on September 7th. The crowd today was 67,402, a few thousand short of a sellout game.