116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Play of the Game: Hello, Niemann
DOWN AND DISTANCE:
Northwestern faced fourth and 22 at its 17
SCORE/TIME AT THE SNAP:
Iowa led 17-0, 3:44, first quarter
FORMATION AND PERSONNEL:
Iowa - Punt return formation with five interior defenders; Northwestern - Punt formation with three interior lineman (including the snapper), three upbacks and four players spread wide
Iowa backup linebacker Ben Niemann blocked Northwestern punter Chris Gradone's punt. The ball stopped at the 1-yard line, where Niemann scooped it up and scored a touchdown.
WHY IT WAS IMPORTANT:
It pushed Iowa ahead 24-0 less than 12 minutes into the game.
THE QUOTE 1:
'I thought I had a chance to get to the first punt and I missed it. Their personal protector didn't really come out to me. I noticed that, so the second time I tried to bend it a little more and I got the block. Since I almost got the first one, we thought they were going to roll out my way a little bit. They ended up doing that, and I was able to bend it around, get a hand on the ball and once I found it, I picked it up and got into the end zone.” - Iowa linebacker Ben Niemann said
THE QUOTE 2: 'I was sitting down and I was talking to Coach (Levar) Woods ... and I was hearing everybody screaming. So I look up and I see Ben in the end zone with the ball. So I was excited and I was jumping up screaming like a little girl. I'm happy for him, I'm glad he got a chance to go out there and make a play today and he made the most of his opportunity.” - Iowa linebacker Quinton Alston
THE QUOTE 3:
'That wasn't a punt block, but we had gotten some pressure, and we do try to get a couple guys in there just to make sure we keep him honest. He's made a great effort on us. We were close, I think, on the punt before that and the one before that. Just a good effort for him. Good to see young guy like that make a nice play.” - Coach Kirk Ferentz
Iowa had a punt return called, but Niemann applied pressure as the left end and wide receiver Jacob Hillyer drove into the backfield from the right side. Hillyer's blocker fanned out to prevent him from attacking the punter, but Niemann caught upback Greg Kuhar flat-footed. Niemann reached past Kuhar with his left hand and blocked Gradone's punt. The ball spun backward as Kuhar looked toward the sky, and Niemann carried it in for the score.
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