17 and Counting

Gameday Media Center

Nov. 6, 2004

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IOWA CITY, IA. — After Drew Tate went 24-of-45 for 270 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday, all wide receiver Clinton Solomon had to say was that the sophomore quarterback was an “athlete.”

The 6-foot, 185-pound Texan had a season-high 45 attempts as he led No. 20 Iowa to a 23-21 victory over Big Ten Conference rival Purdue inside a sold out Kinnick Stadium – the 17th consecutive game won at home and the 10th sellout in a row inside the historic venue.

“Drew Tate is an athlete. He has great hands and great moves, and he can move around like a receiver,” Solomon, a fellow Texan, said. “Drew’s a good leader, and he’s a great quarterback. We just have to make plays because he’s going to get us the ball.”

Tate had his athleticism, his leadership, and his speed tested Saturday against a hard-blitzing Boilermaker defense that forced the first-year starter into some very difficult positions, requiring Houdini-like escapes.

“It’s pretty impressive,” Head Coach Kirk Ferentz said of Tate’s ability to escape under pressure. “We thought he had pretty good feet when we recruited him, but he was under some fire today. He has a sense about where the rush is coming from. He has this savvy, or sense about him, you can’t teach that.”

Iowa got started early against Purdue, scoring 17 points in the first quarter alone.

After keeping the Boilermakers to just 18 yards on their first drive, the Hawkeyes responded with a 74-yard opener that led to an early touchdown on a 1-yard pass from Tate to junior Ed Hinkel.

But on the first drive, it was clear that Tate had found a new target in the decisive conference matchup: 6-foot-7 sophomore Scott Chandler, brother of last year’s quarterback Nate Chandler.

Tate connected with Chandler twice on the Hawkeyes’ first drive, once for 28 yards and another time for 31. For the game, Chandler had a career-high four catches for 122 yards to pace his team.

The sophomore pair even connected on a 46-yarder on 3-and-16 from Iowa’s 35 yard line to start the fourth quarter. That play kept alive a 12-play, 94-yard drive that culminated in a 22-yard field goal by Kyle Schlicher.

“Chandler did a good job of getting open and beating linebackers,” Tate said. “He had a great game.”

Chandler, though, still feels he has a lot of room for improvement.

“I still have a lot of growing to do,” he said. “I have to get bigger and stronger, and I can always get faster. Drew’s doing a good job putting the ball out there; we just have to catch it.”

The Hawkeyes were able to capitalize off of two fumbles and a missed field goal in the first quarter for 10 more points off a 34-yard field goal by Schlicher and a 2-yarder from Tate to Tony Jackson.

“You saw two teams really battling out there, and it was a hard-fought win. I’m not sure how we’re doing it, but we’re getting it done. I guess our team has adapted a little bit.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz

Schlicher was 3-of-6 on the day, nailing 34-, 22-, and 26-yard field goals. He was 2-for-2 on points after.

“I thought Kyle Schlicher really had a good day,” Ferentz said. “I think he’s focusing right now and really kicking with some confidence and accuracy. That’s good to see because that’s going to be critical in the games to come.”

Purdue had five turnovers for the game and three led to points for the Hawkeyes, including the two in the first quarter.

“I thought this was a game of turnovers,” Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. “If you turn the ball over that often, I don’t care who you are, you’re going to have a difficult time winning a game. I thought that was what really hurt us more than anything else today.”

Ferentz credited his defense for the turnovers.

Senior Jonathan Babineaux had one forced fumble, three sacks for a total loss of 18 yards and five solo tackles. Tyler Luebke had another forced fumble and eight total tackles.

Cornerback Antwan Allen picked off one pass for 19 yards and linebacker George Lewis picked off another for 20 yards.

“Our guys are doing a great job defensively,” Ferentz said. “Obviously that’s where our experience is and that’s where our strengths are. I can’t say enough. It’s great team defense too. Our players are executing.

“Today is one of those games too where every play is big, every sequence is big – just an outstanding football team.”

Purdue didn’t roll over, however, and scored touchdowns in the second, third and fourth quarters.

Backup Boilmaker quarterback Brandon Kirsch went 25-of-43 for 280 yards and all three touchdowns. Leading wide receiver Taylor Stubblefield caught 15 for 153 yards and one TD in the fourth quarter.

“Purdue’s an excellent football team,” Ferentz said. “You saw two teams really battling out there, and it was a hard-fought win. I’m not sure how we’re doing it, but we’re getting it done. I guess our team has adapted a little bit.”

Ferentz praised Tate for maintaining his composure despite not converting a touchdown in the second half in the face of the tough Purdue defense.

“The thing that impressed me about Drew today was that he hung in there through the storm and brought us back into the ballgame in the second half,” the coach said. “Every game right now is a learning experience for him, and the good thing is that he comes out of it on his feet and moving forward.”

Iowa not only moved forward on Saturday, but the team solidified its hold on third place in the Big Ten Conference standings. The Hawkeyes went up 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the league, behind Michigan and Wisconsin at 6-0. Purdue fell to 5-4 overall and 2-4 in the conference with its fourth-straight loss of the season.

Depending on Michigan’s last two games of the season, the Hawkeyes could be the conference champions in a fortnight. But you’re not going to get Ferentz to admit it.

“We’re not even thinking about the title right now, I can promise you. I know it’s a cliché, but with our football team especially, we just have to take the next step. That’s what we focus on,” he said. “We’ve been through our share of – I won’t call it adversity – but bumps in the road, adventures, and even today. Look at a guy like Ben Gates jumping in at left tackle and Ben Cronin after him at center doing a great job. We’re just finding something from everybody.”

Iowa’s injury status, in the words of Coach Ferentz, went from “lousy to a little more lousy.”

Center Mike Elgin exited the game at the start of the second half with a right ankle sprain. Ben Cronin replaced him.

“Based on preliminary reports, it may be tough for him to play this week,” Ferentz said. “I think that’s the only serious thing we incurred today.”

Ben Gates replaced Lee Gray at left tackle. Gray had limited practice time this past week with leg problems.

Purdue Coach Joe Tiller was impressed not only with Tate and the Hawkeyes, but with the environment inside historic Kinnick Stadium. “How many people live in the state of Iowa? How many people live in Indiana? Give ’em credit. They’re into it,” he said. The veteran head coach said Kinnick’s environment is easily one of the toughest in the Big Ten for visiting teams. “Top three or four, no doubt,” he said.

Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com