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CHIGAGO – Everyone will remember Iowa running back Damon Bullock’s 23-yard touchdown run that gave the Hawkeyes an 18-17 win over NIU on Saturday at Soldier Field.
The John Weinke punt that helped give Iowa the short field on the touchdown drive was one of the more important plays of the game.
Weinke pinned the Huskies back at their own 1-yard line.
The Huskies went three and out, and were forced to punt from their own end zone, giving Iowa a short field.
NIU head coach Dave Doeren said one assistant coach mentioned the possibility of an intentional safety to avoid giving Iowa the good scoring opportunity.
Doeren said he doesn’t like giving teams points.
“I don’t know how that would have helped us,” Doeren said. “I hate giving points up in a situation like that. ... Possibly, we could have done that. It’s tough in that situation to put points on the board.”
Harris makes the most of opportunity: Freshman running back Keith Harris Jr. scored a touchdown on his first carry, giving NIU the lead with a 7-yard run in the first half. The freshman only carried the ball one more time.
He finished with 11 yards rushing.
Harris was one of four true freshmen to play for NIU. The others were defensive end Perez Ford, tight end Desroy Maxwell and cornerback Marlon Moore.
Doeren happy playing in Chicago: Saturday’s game was the third time NIU has played a game at Soldier Field. The Huskies played Iowa in 2007 and took on Wisconsin last year.
Despite being 0-3 in Chicago, Doeren would like to play at the stadium every season.
“I wish we could play here every year. I don’t care who it’s against,” Doeren said. “I wish we could play anybody from any conference here every year. I love this stadium. We appreciate them letting us come down here.”
NIU can’t get the big takeaway: Doeren was happy with the way his defense played. The Huskies held Iowa to 268 total yards and kept quarterback James Vandenberg in check.
He threw for just 129 yards and had pressure on him all game. The NIU defense finished with six sacks.
But NIU didn’t get that big, momentum-changing turnover.
“I’ll need to see the drive charts, but it felt like we were on a short field a lot,” Doeren said. “We needed a turnover; that’s one thing with the defense – we needed to create a takeaway in the second half.”