Northern Illinois quarterback Ross Bowers said he knows he's turned the ball over three times this year. And that all three have been returned for touchdowns.
One of those came Wednesday, erasing the Huskies' lead for the last time in a 31-25 loss at Ball State.
"Let's start with the obvious. You can't have turnovers that score," Bowers said. "It's killing us. It deflates all of our momentum. It's a tough ballgame when you have two offenses working against you."
Bowers came out sharp, leading NIU (0-3) to a score on the first drive of the game, capped with a 17-yard pass to Tyrice Richie for a score. It was the first time this year NIU led in a game.
But then the pick-6 came. It was the second interception of the year for Bowers, and both have been returned for touchdowns. He also fumbled against Buffalo, and that was returned for a touchdown.
NIU was up, 14-7, and Bowers and the Huskies got down to the Ball State 35, but Amechi Uzodinma picked off Bowers for Ball State (2-1) and returned it 71 yards for a score, tying the game at 14.
NIU never would lead again.
"With the three turnovers I've had this year, they've all scored. It sucks," Bowers said. "It's something that needs to be fixed. I fee l like I've been working my butt off. It's not like I've been hoping it fixes and hoping everything gets better."
Bowers said his first interception of the year was on a screen, so it was kind of a blind throw. But he said on Wednesday it was on him messing up the signal.
"I was thinking it was one thing and our outside receiver saw another," Bowers said. "So we didn't get the vertical clear that would have opened up the throw I was throwing. But not knowing that signal killed us. It's like junior league football. How do you not know the signal. It hurts. It's something, was a good read, it was a great route versus Cover 4, it was just not the one that was called. It's tough to swallow. It such a basic thing. You just screwed up a signal? Golly. It's so embarrassing and it just sucks."
It was the only turnover of the game for the Huskies, who also forced one turnover as a team. Ball State opened the third quarter with a long drive, but Dillon Thomas walked away with an interception in the end zone.
But the Huskies followed with a three-and-out.
Overall, the Huskies managed 412 yards of offense, allowing 415. It was the first time over the 400-yard mark this season.
"Obviously the outcome wasn't what we wanted," Bowers said. "The turnover killed us. Other than those two negatives there's a lot of positive. It felt like we were a lot more explosive and could move the ball when we wanted to."
Bowers finished the game 27 of 40 for 300 yards and two touchdowns.
And one interception.
"The one pick-six tonight was a defining play," Bowers said. "If you take that out, take those seven points off the board, it's a different game. You can imagine how frustrating it is to watch, let alone to throw it."