DETROIT – Mathew Sims’ struggles have been well-documented. The senior kicker missed three consecutive kicks against Toledo and failed to convert on another short field-goal attempt against Western Michigan.
But coach Rod Carey said before Friday’s game against Bowling Green that his confidence in Sims never wavered.
Sims rewarded Carey’s trust by nailing a 51-yard field goal early in the second quarter to pull NIU within seven points, 17-10, and then converting on a 45-yard kick on the next NIU possession. The 51-yard field goal was the fifth-longest in NIU history.
However, Sims missed a 58-yard attempt late in the second quarter and failed to convert on a 44-yard kick midway through the third quarter. The 58-yard attempt came with NIU facing 4th-and-13 from the Bowling Green 41-yard line and down 11 points.
“He made a 51-yarder with room to spare,” Carey said of the decision to kick, “and in a game like that points are critical.”
Huskie gamblers: After cutting the Bowling Green lead to four in the second quarter, NIU attempted a surprise onside kick. The Huskies recovered the kick, but were called for two penalties – offsides and illegal block.
“We had practiced it all week, we knew we had a look in there where we could get it,” Lynch said. “Sometimes in games those situations don’t present themselves, but in this case it presented itself, so we pulled the trigger.
“The call is irrelevant, we just didn’t make enough plays in the game.”
Brown doesn’t play: Da’Ron Brown, one of NIU’s top receivers all season, did not play against Bowling Green because of a hamstring injury.
Brown came into the contest with 689 yards and nine receiving touchdowns, both of which led the team.
“We tried to get him healthy the whole time. He’s a little bumped and bruised,” Carey said. “We took him out, warmed him up, he just couldn’t go.”
Lynch breaks records: Jordan Lynch continued to make history by breaking his own single-season rushing record for a Football Bowl Subdivision quarterback.
Lynch set the record last year with 1,815 rushing yards, but surpassed that mark with an 8-yard touchdown run at the beginning of the third quarter.
The senior quarterback now has 1,881 rushing yards on the year with a bowl game still to play. His 46 total touchdowns are also a school record, surpassing his mark from last year as well.