Onside kick leads to huskie defeat at Soldier Field

By Eli Gehn

NIU’s onside kick in the first quarter caught Wisconsin completely off guard.

“I know that Dave [Doeren] has that in his bag,” said Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema. “He likes those pop kicks.”

However, the Badgers managed to recover the kick, which in a way, lead to the downfall of the Huskies for the remainder of the game.

Before the onside attempt, NIU managed to even up the score at seven, thanks to a three-yard run by running back Jasmin Hopkins with two minutes remaining in the first quarter.

To get an early momentum swing, the Huskies lined up in their regular kickoff formation before pulling off the surprising onside kick.

“I told our players that I was going to coach to win,” Doeren said. “I told [the team] if we scored, that I’d go for a surprise onside.”

At first, NIU thought it had possession of the ball before realizing Wisconsin had it around midfield.

“It looked like we had it at first,” said NIU defensive end Sean Progar. “The Wisconsin guys hit [the ball] and it bounced around the pile.”

The Badgers then drove on the NIU defense to take a 14-7 lead.

The onside kick was a huge turning point for both teams, and it ended up ultimately helping Wisconsin.

Despite the huge recover by his team, Bielema said it wasn’t the only thing that turned the game around.

“You can’t just point to one point in the game,” Bielema said. “That was a big momentum play because we recovered, scored a touchdown and got the score back to where we wanted.”

NIU was hoped to take that early momentum with a recovery and march down the field to take the lead.

“If we could have gotten that onside kick…I think that could have been a huge game changer if we got the ball back with momentum, go down and score and take the lead,” said NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish.

Progar stated that despite not recovering the onside kick, it was up to the Huskies’ defense to get the ball back.

“We didn’t get [the onside kick], so it was on the defense to make a stop,” Progar said.

NIU’s defense was unable to stop the prolific Wisconsin offense that put up a total of 621 yards on 81 plays.

Badger quarterback Russell Wilson seemed unstoppable, completing 23 of 32 pass attempts for 347 yards and three touchdowns.

“He put the ball on the money to his receivers,” Progar said. “They were running max protection and only a couple routes were going out just to let him connect with his receivers all game.”