IOWA CITY, Iowa – After a first half that saw missed opportunities by both teams, Northern Illinois couldn’t contain Iowa’s offense in the second half of a 33-7 season-opening loss at Kinnick Stadium.
The Huskies’ missed opportunities shone brightest on a pair of missed field goals by Andrew Gantz – both wide left – from 33 and 49 yards. The first came on NIU’s first possession, following Jauan Wesley’s punt block at the Iowa 23-yard line; the second was the final series of the first half, when NIU took over at the Iowa 45.
The NIU defense did its part before the break, limiting Iowa to 58 yards on the ground and 148 total. Albert Smalls stopped Iowa’s deepest drive, picking off a Nathan Stanley pass at the NIU 7 on the Hawkeyes’ third possession. A fourth-down stuff at the Huskies’ 38-yard line also kept the score 3-0.
“It’s kind of recipe to win, is to kind of get off to a good start like that, and certainly it was frustrating,” NIU coach Rod Carey said. “But I liked the way the guys didn’t blink, and it didn’t faze them from the standpoint of ‘All right, we just blocked a punt and didn’t get any points, so let’s go stop them and get the ball back and go do it again.’ I think you saw that through the first half.”