IOWA CITY, Iowa – The play that will end up sticking out from Northern Illinois' 30-27 win over Iowa is probably Jimmie Ward's game-changing interception.
Ward jumped a route, picking off Hawkeye QB Jake Rudock and setting up Mathew Sims' game-winning 36-yard field goal, just another clutch kick from the senior.
One play which shouldn't be forgotten is punter Tyler Wedel's 42-yard run on a fake punt attempt late in the third quarter. NIU was down by a touchdown, looking like it was going to have to give the ball back to a Hawkeyes offense which had run the ball down NIU's throat all game, with just over 15 minutes left to play. Opportunities were going to be few and far between.
Rod Carey decided to take a gutsy risk, just like he did earlier in the quarter, going for it on fourth down twice on the same drive. The second time, it didn't work, with Jordan Lynch getting stuffed on fourth-and-2 at the Iowa 28-yard line.
Carey wasn't afraid to gamble once again – NIU had a fake punt ready to go, the Huskies were just waiting for the right time to use it.
Desroy Maxwell took the direct snap, and instead of taking off himself like he did in the Orange Bowl, he tossed it to Wedel, who scampered to the right for 42 yards. It didn't lead to a touchdown – instead a Sims 25-yard field goal.
Though the Hawkeyes would add another field goal, the Huskies got some much-needed momentum, a spark. They weren't able to run the ball with ease like they did in 2012, finishing with just 163 yards on the ground. NIU needed something to get going.
Wedel, the former high school quarterback and defensive back is pretty fast. It was the first time he had carried the ball since high school.
"I was just excited. Not nervous one bit, I was making sure [Maxwell] made the right call because we had to motion the guy over," Wedel said. "I was excited, I was jacked to run it, I wasn't nervous. I knew [Maxwell] was going to give me a great pitch, which he did, and everyone blocked phenomenally well.
"Credit goes to those guys, and I just had to run the ball, and being a punter, just hope you don't get hit. So I was just running away from everybody."
You're on the road, you're offense isn't doing a ton against a Big Ten team. Why not try something out of the ordinary? I always liked how Dave Doeren was never afraid to take the big risk.
It's only two games into Carey's tenure, but so far, he's 3-0 when it comes to trickeration – Wedel's run, Maxwell's fake punt run, as well as the successful onside kick in the Orange Bowl.
Carey felt his team needed a spark of some sort. The Huskies certainly got one. Without it, they're giving the ball back to Iowa, and the Hawkeyes' strong running game. Who knows what happens.
"We had to find a way to make a play. Like I said, they hemmed us up on offense and we had to do something to get going," he said. "We were down by seven and our defense was holding in there. We thought we had an opportunity to run it, saw that we did and then waited for the correct time to execute it."