DEKALB, Ill. (AP) — It might not have been as exciting as last year's finish when Kansas scored with nine seconds remaining to win in Lawrence, 45-42, but Northern Illinois had its own thrilling comeback, scoring 17 straight fourth quarter points to rally for a 30-23 victory Saturday afternoon.
"I'm proud of the way we finish games around here," Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren said, which included a 41-40 victory over Army in its last game.
Northern Illinois (3-1) running back Leighton Settle scored on a 2-yard run with 4:33 left to cap a 53-yard drive and the Huskies victory. The short field was set up when Huskies defensive end Joe Windsor sacked Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist on third down at the Jayhawks 18 yard line. Northern Illinois had four sacks, two by Windsor and two by defensive end Alan Baxter.
"They were 4 of 16 on third down," Doeren said. "That's our playmakers on defense making plays."
Doeren added later, "In case you haven't noticed, I have an aggressive personality. I told our offensive and defensive coaches to go."
The Jayhawks looked to be in good shape when defensive back Tyler Patmon intercepted Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown 27 seconds into the fourth quarter, giving Kansas a 23-13 lead after a missed extra point by Ron Doherty.
On the next offensive snap, however, Lynch threw a Tim Tebow-like 9-yard jump pass to Martel Moore over the middle and he ran untouched for a 65-yard score with 14:23 left to bring the Huskies to within three at 23-20.
"I thought we had great tempo today," Lynch said. "We had a few plays that went the distance."
Northern Illinois kicker Mathew Sims then tied the score at 23-23 with a 44-yard field goal at the 7:58 mark.
The Huskies victory moved its home field winning streak to a school record 17 games, while the Jayhawks (1-3) lost their 16th straight road contest.
Kansas took the second half kickoff 71 yards in 14 plays with James Sims scoring his second touchdown on a 1-yard run on fourth and goal to give the Jayhawks a 17-13 lead.
Lynch ran for 134 yards on 22 carries, his third 100-plus rushing game of the season. He also completed 23 of 35 passes for 235 yards, while Martel had five catches for 105 yards as the Huskies offense amassed 455 total yards.
"When we do what we have to do and play mistake-free football, there are not a lot of teams that can stop us," Lynch said.
"Part of the problem that they cause is how fast they change their personal," Kansas first-year coach Charlie Weis said about the Huskies no-huddle offense. "Sometimes it looks like a fire drill."
Sims, who was playing in his first game after being suspended for violating team rules, rushed 18 times for Kansas, totaling 91 yards and the two scores. Crist, the former Notre Dame quarterback when Weis was the coach, finished 10 for 26 for 147 yards.
The teams traded scores in the first half, with Northern Illinois holding a 13-10 lead at intermission. Kansas opened the scoring in the first quarter on a 26-yard field goal by Doherty. Northern Illinois took the ensuing kickoff and reached the end zone on a 4-yard pass from Lynch to wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. But the point after touchdown was wide by Mathew Sims, as the Huskies led 6-3 late in the first quarter.
Kansas grabbed the lead back early in the second quarter when James Sims scored on a 26-yard run up the middle, capping an 86-yard drive. Northern Illinois concluded the first half scoring, as running back Akeem Daniels reached the end zone on a 3-yard run with 1:38 remaining.
The Jayhawks entered the contest with a two game losing streak, while Northern Illinois had won its previous two contests. The Huskies allowed 486 rushing yards in its victory over Army, but they limited Kansas to 179 yards.
It was a nostalgic game of sorts for Doeren, a Kansas native, who was an assistant coach at Kansas from 2002 to 2005.
"Being from Kansas and having worked there, that's great," Doeren said. "But my mom is probably more excited about that part than I am."
Chicago Bears Hall-of-Famer Gayle Sayers, known as the Kansas Comet, conducted the ceremonial coin flip.