Hawkeyes Hurdle Illini, 35-7

Oct. 1, 2005

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IOWA CITY — The play had been in Iowa’s repertoire for a while, but Ed Hinkel and Drew Tate finally got to run it during the Hawkeyes’ 35-7 win against Illinois Saturday inside a sold-out Kinnick Stadium. It was Iowa’s 21st consecutive home victory, the longest home winning streak in school history.

The play was a simple reverse, but it’s dependent on a lot of blocking, especially from the quarterback, but it’s a far nicer hit for Tate than the one he took against Iowa State three weeks ago that gave him a concussion.

Benefiting from the quarterback’s block and two more by fellow wideout Clinton Solomon, Hinkel acrobatically leaped over the Illini’s Sharriff Abdullah, hit the end zone, and put the Hawkeyes up 13-0 en route to their first Big Ten Conference win of the season.

“We work hard in the weight room so that we can jump high, and I guess it paid off today,” Hinkel said. “It’s a play we’ve been practicing, and that’s the kind of situation we wanted to run it in and it came about, we threw it in there and it worked out.”

Hinkel credited the blocks by Solomon and Tate for giving him the opportunity for his first running score ever and his first touchdown of the season.

“You could have run that ball in,” the senior receiver said, referring to a rather portly reporter who asked him about the play. “The guys out in front of me made some nice blocks. The guys just executed perfectly.”

It was that type of day for the Hawks (3-2, 1-1), and it was a day the team desperately needed after a 31-6 loss at No. 8 Ohio State last week.

“You can’t beat coming home,” offensive lineman Brian Ferentz said. “It’s such a difference to have 70,000 people behind you.”

Iowa hasn’t lost inside Kinnick since a 36-31 defeat against Iowa State on Sept. 14, 2002. The winning streak breaks the 20-game span originally set between Nov. 19, 1918 and Oct. 20, 1923. The streak ranks third nationally behind Boise State (26) and Southern California (22).

“It’s certainly exciting for (the players) to be part of that 21-game streak,” Head Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s a real significant accomplishment and an awful lot of people invested to make that happen certainly, including our fans.”

Running back Marcus Schnoor struck first for the Hawkeyes on a 3-yard run on Iowa’s first drive, which was helped along by a 36-yard run by Albert Young, who rushed for 104 yards on 13 carries. It was the sophomore back’s second career game past the century mark.

Overall, Iowa rushed for 301 yards after a concerning minus-9 performance last week against the Buckeyes.

“It was two different teams, two different game plans and two different places that we played,” Tate said. “We’re at home and we always play well at home. Obviously Illinois isn’t Ohio State and Ohio State isn’t Illinois.”

The quarterback also credited his offensive line with the improved offensive performance.

“I thought they did a better job,” he said. “If you have to pick players of the game, it would be those five guys.”

Ferentz, the center, said it was a matter of execution between the two games and said his unit needs to develop consistency.

“I thought we grew during the game. I think if we’re the type of team that keeps our energy and keeps the right kind of attitude and commitment to it, we’ll have a chance to improve weekly. ”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz

“It’s a matter of execution,” he said. “The game plan is simple week to week. It was simple this week, and it was simple last week and obviously your opponent has a little to do with it.

“But it comes down to how you play and what you manage to do on the ground and in the air, but I think the biggest thing for this offense is going to be consistency.”

Hinkel and Schnoor weren’t the only Hawkeyes showcasing Iowa’s improved running game. Sophomore Damian Sims picked up a 66-yard run on a second-and-10 play from the Iowa 34 for the final score of the game, benefiting from a missed tackle by Illinois’ Kyle Kleckner and outrunning Abdullah, the cornerback.

“I think if we’re going to have a chance offensively, then we’ve got to be as diverse as possible,” Kirk Ferentz said. “We have to use everybody every possible way we can.”

Sims’ run made him the second-best for the Hawkeyes with 81 yards on six carries. Schnoor had 38 on seven.

Tate’s passing improved over last week, too. He completed 17 of 22 with one interception and threw two touchdowns – one to Hinkel and another to Scott Chandler in the third quarter. Tate gained 175 yards in the air for Iowa.

“I think we just executed. It’s as simple as that,” Hinkel said. “We just didn’t execute last week. And it shows that our team, if we have a good week of preparation and things like that, we have a chance to play well.”

If things were going Iowa’s way, the all-around good vibes weren’t helping Illinois (2-3, 0-2) at all.

The Illini’s kicker, Jason Reda, who was 8 of 9 for field goals coming into Saturday’s contest, missed three in a row. Two were blocked by Iowa’s Kenny Iwebema and the other was a low, 21-yard attempt that missed wide left.

The Illini could have been down 14-9 or better going into the half. But Franklin Payne also dropped a pass that would have scored for Illinois.

“We should have had nine points (at halftime),” Illinois Coach Ron Zook said. “I don’t think there’s any question those are kicks that he should be making, and you worry about that with a young guy.

“We have to get him back in that grove because he is a good kicker and he can do it.”

Iowa’s defense bended but didn’t break, in the words of Brian Ferentz, and that provided the offense with enough confidence to get the job done on its side of the ball.

“If anything it motivates you seeing those guys out there making plays like (a blocked field goal),” Brian Ferentz said. “You have to reciprocate and return the favor, that’s the biggest thing.”

Zook said the difference between the two teams’ offensive performance was Tate, since Illinois actually had a nine-yard advantage in total yardage at halftime.

“He can scramble around and make things happen and he did,” the coach said. “You can tell he’s an experienced quarterback and he may be the difference behind why they got the points and we didn’t in the first half.”

Linebacker Abdul Hodge, who led the Hawkeyes with 18 tackles including two for loss, said Iowa’s young defensive line did a lot of things well during the game.

“Anytime you can keep a team out of the end zone we’re doing our job,” the senior said. “But we have to go back to the film and be honest with ourselves; there are a lot of plays we could have played better on and a lot of tackles that could have been better.”

Kirk Ferentz said his team, especially the offensive line, looked “crisper” and that his team is committed to improving.

“I thought we grew during the game,” the coach said. “I think if we’re the type of team that keeps our energy and keeps the right kind of attitude and commitment to it, we’ll have a chance to improve weekly.

“We can’t take anything for granted.”

Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com