Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward (15) runs away from Iowa wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley (11) after intercepting a pass from Hawkeyes quarterback Jake Rudock (15) late in the fourth quarter Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 at Kinnick Stadium. (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)
PLAY OF THE GAME
- TIME: 1:24, fourth quarter
- SCORE: Iowa 27, Northern Illinois 27
- DOWN AND DISTANCE: First-and 10 at Iowa’s 45
- FORMATION AND PERSONNEL: Iowa – single back, one tight end, three wide receivers. Shotgun formation; man-to-man coverage
- WHAT HAPPENED: Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock threw to his left toward wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley, who was running an out route. Rudock’s pass was high and behind Martin-Manley, and Northern Illinois strong safety Jimmie Ward, who was lined up inside of Martin-Manley, jumped the route. Ward picked off the pass at the 50-yard line and returned it 20 yards to the Iowa 30.
- WHY IT WAS IMPORTANT: The turnover gave the Huskies the ball in scoring position. After two runs resulting in 11 yards, NIU kicker Mathew Sims knocked down a 36-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to give Northern Illinois the victory.
- THE QUOTE 1: “When you can kind of smell a rat, you can play into that,” NIU Coach Rod Carey said. “We don’t call it taking chances; we call it smelling a rat. You see what it is. Jimmie did that on that on the last play. We had seen that run a couple of times.”
- THE QUOTE 2: “I jumped the last one but it was too high,” Ward said. “The second time I jumped I said I was going to take a chance.”
- THE QUOTE 3: “They were playing man-to-man and I thought we had leverage on them,” Rudock said. “Kevonte ran a good route, the guy made a good play, I threw it a little bit behind him.”
- THE ANALYSIS: Throwing an out route from the far hashmark across your body is one of a quarterback’s most difficult throws. Iowa’s average yard-per-attempt was 4.25 in the second half. NIU tightly covered outs and hitches and the defensive backs knew those perimeter-based passes were coming with regularity.