BSU field goal finishes Huskies, 18-17

By Chris Sigley

Just when last-second winning field goals were starting to become a trademark with the NIU football team, Ball State came to Huskie Stadium Saturday and bought the rights.

BSU placekicker Kenny Stucker booted a 38-yard field goal with 10 seconds left—after four timeouts—to spoil a Huskie Homecoming, 18-17, before 15,849 fans.

Three plays after an NIU holding penalty, which moved the ball to the Huskie’s 27, BSU called timeout with :15 on the clock. NIU followed with three successive timeouts in an attempt to ice Stucker.

“I wanted him (Stucker) to think about it as long as he could,” said NIU coach Jerry Pettibone.

The situation was a familiar one to the Huskies, who had salvaged wins twice this season against Wisconsin (19-17), with 1:24 on the clock Sept. 19, and Southern Illinois (10-9), with 12 seconds left to play Oct. 22. This time the tables were turned, and it was NIU coach Jerry Pettibone who felt the agony of defeat.

“Obviously, it was probably the most disappointing defeat in four years being head coach at NIU,” Pettibone said. “That’s how Wisconsin and Southern Illinois felt when we beat them at the end.”

While Pettibone was feeling blue, NIU quarterback Marshall Taylor was feeling guilty for his costly fumble with six minutes left in the game. The Huskies were leading 17-7, when Taylor rushed to the left from NIU’s 41 yardline where BSU’s Greg Garnica was waiting.

“One play can be so very important,” Taylor said. “The one play I had really hurt us bad. I was trying to cover up and take care of the ball, and I went in there and there was a lot of traffic. I stuck my head down and a guy stripped me.”

Probably the highest point in the game for NIU came on guard Dan Smaha’s 31-yard “fumblerooski” touchdown run, a first-ever play in Pettibone’s reign at NIU. Center Eric Wenckowski snapped the ball to Taylor, who set the ball back down between Wenckowski’s legs for Smaha to pick up.

Smaha’s touchdown with 11 minutes left to play, followed by the successful point-after kick from Ivanic, lifted the Huskies to a 17-7 lead.

Despite four interceptions in the first half, NIU could only come up with three points from a field goal by Ivanic three minutes into the game.

With 5:38 left in the first half, BSU’s Mark Stevens leaped over a pack of Huskies and into the end zone to give the Cardinals a 6-3 lead. Stucker’s PAT made it 7-3 at the half.

NIU’s next score came from Adam Dach’s nine-yard run off right tackle with 50 seconds left in the third quarter. Ivanic’s kick gave NIU a 10-7 edge.

NIU was unable to stop BSU’s Bernie Parmalee (26 carries for 121 yards) and quarterback David Riley who completed 20 of 30 passes for 214 yards.