Nov. 11, 2006
IOWA CITY — A catch. A stop. A deflection.
The effort was there. The attitude was there. However, the University of Iowa football team fell just that short on the execution and fell just that short – 24-21 – of upsetting nationally ranked Wisconsin Saturday on Seniors Day at Kinnick Stadium.
“I thought we came to life today. We competed hard. We played hard. But we didn’t get over the hump when they opened the door for us,” said UI Coach Kirk Ferentz, who saw his team battle back from a 10-0 deficit to take a 14-10 lead, and a 24-14 deficit to have the ball with a chance to break its three-game losing streak.
The Hawkeyes closed to within three at 24-21 when Drew Tate connected with Trey Stross on a 24-yards scoring strike with 10:50 left to play. However, as has been the case for much of the season, two different times Iowa offensive drives came to an end when UI receivers couldn’t secure Tate spirals.
The Hawkeyes’ senior quarterback finished his final game inside Kinnick with just 10 completion in 31 tries for 170 yards and three touchdowns. Tate’s first scoring strike was a 4-yard pass to tight end Tony Moeaki with 8:30 to play to cut Wisconsin’s lead to 10-7.
Iowa claimed a 14-10 lead with Tate found fullback Tom Busch with a three-yard toss with 2:16 left before intermission. However, UW quarterback Tyler Donovan scrambled for a pair of first downs before tossing a 42-yard touchdown to Luke Swan.
“We knew he was a good athlete and he showed that today. He also showed great poise. I thought he ran their offense beautifully,” Ferentz said of the Badgers’ back-up quarterback.
“That play at the end of the half, that drive, gave them the life,” he added.
Iowa stifled UW running back P.J. Hill. The Big Ten’s top rusher was held to just 77 yards on 28 carries. Donovan, however, ran for 61 yards.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of defending Hill. But we lost contain on Donovan a couple times and let him be the difference in the game,” said Ferentz.
Damian Sims led Iowa with 53 yards on seven carries. Albert Young added another 41 on eight carries. Wisconsin outgained Iowa, 371 yards to 304.
Iowa committed just one turnover – an interception in the second quarter when Tate was flushed out of the pocket – and it was costly. The Badgers converted that miscue into an easy seven.
“The turnover was tough. The good news, though, is that we overcame it to make it interesting,” said Ferentz., whose team travels to Minneapolis next week seeking its seventh victory and to bring to an end a four-game losing streak in Big Ten play.
“We made improvement this week,” said Iowa’s head coach, who said a 7-5 mark looks a lot better than 6-6.
“We made improvement this week and that was paramount. Now we have to head north and figure out a way to win one in the Dome,” he added. “It won’t be easy. They’ re playing well, have a veteran quarterback and will be playing for an opportunity to play in a bowl game.”