DeKALB – Instead of booting a field goal, which he usually does with ease, Northern Illinois kicker Mathew Sims was sprinting towards the end zone.
Early in the fourth quarter of the Huskies’ 55-24 Saturday win over Central Michigan, Sims lined up for a short field goal with NIU up by 10.
Instead of kicking, he ran right as holder Ryan Neir tossed the ball over his shoulder and into Sims’ hands.
The play ended up being an easy 7-yard touchdown run for the junior.
He got hit when he was in the end zone, which resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
“I’m fine. After I finally realized I scored and didn’t fumble, I was happy,” Sims said. “I didn’t really feel the hit anymore.”
The run was Sims’ first career touchdown, but not the only time he’s run a fake field goal.
Two years ago at Ball State, he ran a fake six yards for a first down.
This one turned out a little better, giving NIU a 17-point lead it would never surrender.
“Coach told me that we were going to run it and we got two field goals before that, so I knew he was going to give us the opportunity to run it. We ran it a lot in practice,” Sims said. “[Ryan] Neir gave me a great toss and then [Jason] Schepler gave me a great block outside.”
Sims’ run wasn’t the only trick play from NIU head coach Dave Doeren, who rolled the dice a couple of other times.
In the first quarter, Neir, the team’s senior punter, ran for 17 yards on a fake punt, resulting in a first down. On NIU’s second drive of the game, wide receiver Perez Ashford attempted a pass, which was dropped by tight end Luke Eakes in the end zone.
On the calls for the fake punt and field goal, Doeren was just taking advantage of the look Central Michigan was showing. He said the special teams units have the option to check out of the fakes if the look isn’t there.
“Every week that’s what we do. We watch film and see if there’s anything we feel like we can take advantage of,” Doeren said. “Every game we have a fake punt and a fake field goal available. It’s usually not there. It’s just certain situations, where today, both looks we wanted they came out in and they were in multiple times and we felt we had right plays called.”
The two fake calls on special teams were just a couple of ways NIU took advantage of Central Michigan, as the Huskies won their 18th consecutive game in DeKalb.
Chippewas head coach Dan Enos said NIU’s success on the two calls was the result of mental errors by his team. He wouldn’t specify which positions or players.
“On the fake punt, it was a mental error by one player and the same thing on the fake field goal,” Enos said. “You can’t have that. You have to give them credit.”