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Trick play fuels Northern Illinois past Arkansas State


Kicker Kanon Woodill scored a 32-yard touchdown on a trick play to help Northern Illinois notch a 21-19 victory over Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl on Saturday at Montgomery, Ala.

Rocky Lombardi passed for one touchdown and rushed for another as Northern Illinois (7-6) ended a seven-game bowl losing streak. Ironically, the previous win also came against Arkansas State in the Bowl following the 2011 regular season.

Antario Brown rushed for 132 yards on 25 carries and Grayson Barnes caught five passes for 105 yards and one touchdown for the Huskies. Lombardi completed 18 of 29 passes for 200 yards and two interceptions in his final game to end a seven-year college career (2017-20 at Michigan State, 2021-23 at NIU).

Jalen Raynor was 16-of-30 passing for 250 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the Red Wolves (6-7), who notched their fourth consecutive losing campaign. Corey Rucker had five catches, 107 yards and two scoring receptions, the latter one coming with 1:14 left to bring Arkansas State within 21-19.

On the ensuing two-point conversion play, Raynor’s pass was high and out of the end zone.

The Red Wolves recovered the ensuing onside kick but it was nullified due to a controversial offside penalty. Barnes recovered the next try and the Huskies ran out the clock.

Northern Illinois led 13-7 in the second quarter when it faced fourth-and-5 and Woodill trotted out for a field-goal attempt.

But there was no kick planned. After the snap came, holder Tom Foley flipped the ball to Woodill, who raced through a big hole in the middle of the field for a 32-yard touchdown to give the Huskies a 21-7 lead.

The Red Wolves received field goals of 28 and 45 yards from Dominic Zvada to trail 21-13 at halftime.

Northern Illinois began the game with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, with Lombardi connecting with Barnes on an 18-yard scoring pass. A two-point conversion run failed.

Later in the period, Arkansas State’s Trevian Thomas intercepted Lombardi. On the next play, Raynor tossed a 42-yard touchdown pass to Rucker. Zvada’s point-after gave the Red Wolves a 7-6 lead.

The Huskies took the 13-7 advantage when Lombardi scored a 6-yard keeper with 1:24 left in the first quarter.

Woodill used all his good fortune on the touchdown play. He clanked a 36-yard field goal off the left upright in the second quarter and achieved a second doink in the third quarter when his 23-yard caromed off the right upright.

–Field Level Media

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