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Northern Illinois beats Iowa on field goal with :04 left

Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey celebrates with quarterback Jordan Lynch after their 30-27 victory over Iowan NCAA college football

Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey celebrates with quarterback Jordan Lynch after their 30-27 victory over Iowa in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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Updated: October 2, 2013 6:49AM

IOWA CITY — Beating any Big Ten team on the road is a big accomplishment.

Time and time again, Northern Illinois has come up short, including last season’s one-point loss to Iowa at Soldier Field.

But the Huskies came out on top Saturday, when Mathew Sims’ 36-yard field goal gave them a 30-27 victory over the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Quarterback Jordan Lynch led the way, throwing for 275 yards and three touchdowns.

But even after the huge season-opening win, coach Rod Carey
downplayed the significance.

‘‘It means we’re 1-0,’’ he said. ‘‘All we’ve got in our sights is Idaho.
We’re going to enjoy this for 24 hours ... and then after that, the page is turned.’’

NIU came out sharp and jumped to a 10-0 lead, but Iowa was quick to match it. Hawkeyes linebacker Christian Kirksey forced a Luke Eakes fumble and returned it 48 yards for a score, and his team built off that momentum to take a 24-17 halftime lead.

NIU’s offense suffered a blow in the second half when wide receiver Tommylee Lewis, who had caught two touchdowns, left the game with an ankle injury.

‘‘The whole offense realized that they had to step up and make plays,’’ said wide receiver Da’Ron Brown, who had 92 yards on the day. ‘‘In the receivers room, we’ve got a motto of being your brother’s keeper, so when he went down, I felt like we had to continue to play for him.’’

Knowing they would have to take some chances to get back in the game, the Huskies did just that. On a fourth-and-five, they faked a punt and pitched to speedy punter Tyler Wedel, who took it 42 yards down the right sideline to set up a field goal.

‘‘We had to find a way to make a play,’’ Carey said. ‘‘They hemmed us up on offense, and we had to do something to get going.’’

Iowa hit a field goal to make it 27-20 with under seven minutes remaining, but Lynch marched his team down the field and hit Brown for a 33-yard game-tying touchdown.

Both teams struggled to move the ball as the clock ran down, and with 90 seconds remaining, NIU safety Jimmie Ward picked off a Jake Rudock pass, giving NIU a chance to steal the victory.

The Huskies ran the clock down and Sims coolly knocked it through the uprights. As time expired, the stadium was almost completely silent. Almost, except for the jubilant Huskies and a small contingent of red-clad fans.

Lynch understands that the win could be a launching pad toward bigger things.

‘‘It feels good to play your first game on the road and get a victory against a Big Ten team,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re putting the program on the map.’’

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