Sept. 29, 2007
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IOWA CITY — Total yards didn’t tell the total story for Iowa this afternoon at historic Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa held an edge in total yards, 428 to 395, but Indiana used a 322-yard passing performance by quarterback Kellen Lewis and halted Iowa’s Homecoming winning streak at seven games with a 38-20 decision. For the Hawkeyes, there were just too many key turnovers (two), sacks allowed (nine), missed kicks (two field goals, one extra point) and key penalties (nine for 73 yards) to keep pace with the resilient Lewis.
Indiana improved to 4-1 overall, 1-1 in the Big Ten. Iowa slipped to 2-3, 0-2.
“I’d like to congratulate Indiana on playing a good game,” Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “They’re a good football team and credit goes to them.”
Albert Young was the offensive star for the Hawkeyes, rushing for 94 yards on 15 carries and catching three passes for 44 yards. Quarterback Jake Christensen completed 24 of 42 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns. Linebacker Mike Humpal (12) and tackle Matt Kroul (10) both registered double-figure tackles. Humpal had five solo stops and Charles Godfrey added four.
“We’re going to have to play better than that in the future,” Ferentz said. “We’ll go back to work tomorrow.”
The Hawkeyes had won seven consecutive Homecoming games, dating back to 1999, when they ironically fell to an Indiana team that posted 38 points during a 38-31 win in 1999.
Iowa penetrated Indiana territory on its second drive of the game, only to have a 42-yard field goal attempt by Austin Signor sail wide left. The Hawkeyes began the series at midfield and the biggest play of the drive — a 17-yard completion from Christensen to James Cleveland took the ball to the Indiana 31. Another completion to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and a 3-yard rush by Young placed the ball on the Hoosier 24 before the drive stalled.
While the Iowa defense didn’t reach the elusive Lewis in the early going, it did make life miserable by batting back-to-back third-down passes to the turf. The first was by Mitch King, the second by Bryan Mattison.
The Hoosiers caught the first break of the game — and in retrospect might have been the play of the game — when they recovered a Colin Sandeman fumbled punt at the Iowa 20-yard line with 6:30 left in the first period. Lewis went to the air and connected with Andrew Means for 9 yards and then Marcus Thigpen carried the ball for 6 more to the Iowa 5-yard line. Iowa looked to slow the Indiana momentum by calling timeout at the 6:02 mark. On first-and-goal from the 5, the Hoosiers were whistled for an illegal shift, sending the ball back to the Hawkeye 10. That’s when Godfrey had seen enough. The Iowa front four chased Lewis out of the pocket and he slung a pass across the field to his right, where Godfrey stepped in front of James Hardy and intercepted the pass in the end zone. A nice return was brought back to the Iowa 2 because of an illegal block.
Hardy continued to haunt the Hawkeye secondary on the next Indiana drive. The Hoosiers started at the Hawkeye 38 and on third-and-11, Lewis connected with Hardy for a 39-yard touchdown reception with 3:19 left. Although the Hawkeye defense had its back to the wall when the series began, King provided a spark when, on second down, he blew through the line and smacked Thigpen for a 5-yard loss.
The first period ended with the Hoosiers leading 7-0, despite the fact the Hawkeyes began making offensive progress on their final drive of the quarter. Damian Sims rushed for 17 yards on first-and-10 from the Iowa 31 and Christensen and Cleveland hooked up for 18 yards on second-and-20 from the 21.
Lewis and Hardy set up Indiana’s second score with a 48-yard completion that took the ball from Indiana’s 36 to the Hawkeye 16. Four plays later, Lewis threw his second touchdown pass of the day — this time to Ray Fisher — with 11:55 left in the second period. The 8-play, 84-yard drive consumed 3:17.
Even when things were going wrong for the Hoosiers, they ended up rosy. Lewis completed a third-and-9 pass to Sears, who struggled for additional yardage and appeared to have the first down when the ball squirted loose. An alert Lewis scooped the fumble and sprinted 71 yards for a touchdown. Iowa challenged that the ball was not fumbled, but the play stood and the Hoosiers were on top 21-0 with 8:34 to play in the first half.
“Similar to two weeks ago (a 15-13 loss at Iowa State), we put ourselves in a tough situation in the first half,” Ferentz said.
Lewis put his team in a precarious position after doing a flip into the end zone on the fumble return. The unsportsmanlike conduct penalty meant Indiana had to kick off from its own 15. The Hawkeyes eventually started the drive from their own 41 and the comeback began. Unfortunately for Iowa, a second kicker (Daniel Murray) and a second field goal (from 25 yards) sailed to the left. Young carved up the Hoosier defense on the drive, rushing for 38 yards on five carries. A big play came on fourth-and-2 from the Indiana 26 when Christensen rolled to his right and picked up the first down by inches.
It was finally time for Iowa to catch a break and the Hawkeyes caught two on the same scoring drive. It took the Hawkeyes 50 seconds to cover 52 yards and break into the scoring column as the half came to a close. Iowa receiver Trey Stross collected a Hail Mary carom from Christensen that ricocheted over four Hoosier defenders and into the hands of Stross, who relieved a bit of frustration by authoritatively spiking the ball to the ground, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty of his own. Signor’s PAT closed the gap to 21-7. The drive almost didn’t even begin. Paul Chaney Jr., fumbled a punt in Iowa territory that was recovered by Indiana, but the Hoosiers were called for illegal formation prior to the punt and the Hawkeyes received new life.
The second half started with a three-and-out by the Hawkeye defense and then a huge turnover. Thigpen was running an inside counter for the Hoosiers when the ball bounced loose and into the grasp of Hawkeye linebacker Bryon Gattas at the Iowa 35.
Christensen and tight end Brandon Myers pumped new life into the Hawkeyes when they teamed for a 10-yard touchdown reception with 6:58 to go on fourth-and-4. It was a balanced 10-play, 65-yard drive for Iowa. Young carried the ball twice for 15 yards (with a long of 13), Sims carried the ball twice for 16 yards (with a long of 12) and Christensen completed a 12-yard pass to Cleveland. Signor missed the PAT kick, but the Hawkeyes reduced the margin to a one-possession game, 21-13.
Indiana answered and went ahead 28-13 with 1:53 left in the third period when Sears bulled his way in from one yard. Lewis deserves praise for his composure on a fourth-and-5 play from the Iowa 27, which was set up by a rare Hardy dropped pass. This time Lewis found Brandon Walker-Roby for a 24-yard gain to the Hawkeye 3-yard line. It took the Hoosiers three running plays and a defensive holding penalty to find the end zone.
The Hoosiers maintained their dominance of the final moments of the third period when Leslie Majors intercepted a Christensen pass at the Iowa 40. Iowa’s defense stiffened and held Indiana to a 44-yard field by Austin Starr, making the score 31-13, but the game clock was not in Iowa’s favor.
There was no quit in Iowa as the Hawkeyes marched 75 yards on 10 plays and cut the Indiana margin to 31-20 with an 18-yard scoring toss from Christensen to Johnson-Koulianos with 10 minutes remaining.
Just when it appeared that Hardy had disappeared in the second half, he came up with an 18-yard reception that essentially sealed the win for the Hoosiers. Faced with third-and-8, Lewis found Hardy and moved the chains. Means added a helping hand to Lewis when he hauled in an acrobatic grab that allowed the Hoosiers to convert a third down to the Hawkeye 10. Lewis held his ground on the play despite a hard-charging King pressuring from his right side. Sears rumbled in from seven yards and sealed the victory with 4:58 remaining giving the Hoosiers an insurmountable 18-point edge.
Iowa travels to Penn State on Saturday, Oct. 6, with a 2:35 kickoff (CT). Indiana hosts Minnesota at 11 a.m.
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