A real sunny day at Kinnick Stadium

Aug. 30, 2008

Box Score | Quotes | Notes | Photo Gallery 1 | Photo Gallery 2

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Running game…check (245 yards). Kicking game…check (three field goals, 5 for 5 PAT). Defense…check (two interceptions, four pass breakups, a safety and seven tackles for loss). Season-opening victory for the University of Iowa football team…big, broad, bold check (46-3 over Maine). It marks the eighth straight time that a Kirk Ferentz-coached team has started a season 1-0.

“It’s a good start in a lot of ways,” Ferentz said. “But there are things we need to correct.”

Iowa continued its auditions at several positions and Ferentz and the rest of the coaching staff would be hard-pressed to find fault in any of the eager candidates. The Hawkeyes rolled to 457 total yards of offense and kept the over-matched Black Bears from the end zone. It is the first time Iowa has held an opponent without a touchdown since a 10-6 victory against Illinois on Oct. 13, 2007 (six games).

This was poetry on the field for 70,585 Hawkeye fans who needed their roster sheet and sunscreen this afternoon during the 31st consecutive sellout of Kinnick Stadium.

“I’m extremely appreciative of our fans,” Ferentz said. “You talk about loyal fans. I want to say thank you to them for turning out like they did.”

Running back Shonn Greene rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown and Jake Christensen (9-15-1, 122 yards) and Ricky Stanzi (9-14-0, 90 yards) combined to complete 18 of 29 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown.

“Shonn’s not quite full speed yet, but he’s getting closer,” Ferentz said. “That’s exciting. He’s a veteran player.”

It was Greene’s first 100-yard rushing performance since he gained 116 against Ball State in his collegiate opener in 2005. Jewel Hampton added 68 yards on nine runs.

Although Ferentz said he would rather not play a two-quarterback rotation during the heart of the season, there didn’t appear to be much separation between the two signal-callers this afternoon.

“I’m extremely appreciative of our fans. You talk about loyal fans. I want to say thank you to them for turning out like they did.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz

“It looks like we’re about the same right now,” Ferentz said. “Everything was mostly good. We’ll see what the tape looks like and see what the next week of practice looks like.”

UI offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe has a never-ending quest for chalking up `big’ plays, and he watched his Hawkeyes rush four times in the opening drive for 11 or more yards. The biggest chunk of Kinnick turf was gobbled up by wide receiver Andy Brodell, who took a reverse and sprinted toward the right sideline for 24 yards to the Maine 3. Four consecutive rushes by Greene eventually led to the Hawkeyes grabbing a 6-0 lead less than five minutes into the game. Freshman kicker Trent Mossbrucker booted his first career PAT and Iowa was on top 7-0. Greene ripped off runs of 15, 13 and 11 yards during the opening series.

Maine showed some offensive moxie of its own on the first offensive snap of the season for the Black Bears. Quarterback Adam Farkes found a wide-open Michael Brusko for a 37-yard reception that took the ball to the Hawkeye 39. The momentum was short-lived. Five plays later UI cornerback Bradley Fletcher intercepted a tipped pass at the 15 and returned it to the Iowa 19.

The second UI series provided more big gains, but also saw a few near-misses for the Hawkeyes. An 11-play, 81-yard scoring drive culminated with the first touchdown pass of the season by Christensen — a 4-yarder to tight end Brandon Myers with 3:37 left in the first quarter. This time the big Hawkeye plays came through the air. Christensen completed a 15-yard pass to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and a 20-yard reception on a screen pass to Paki O’Meara on a sequence where Christensen narrowly avoided a surging Black Bear linebacker. The most pivotal play of the drive came on first-and-10 from the UI 40 when Maine’s Dominic Cusano was called for pass interference on a Christensen-to-Brodell attempt.

UI linebacker A.J. Edds, and his opportune blitz, allowed the defense to join the point party. On second-and-5 from the Maine 8, Edds came sprinting from Farkes’s left side, leading to an intentional grounding call in the end zone. That gave the Hawkeyes their first safety since the 2005 season. It also gave them a 16-0 lead.

Mossbrucker struck again with his feet, converting a 35-yard field goal with 3:39 left before halftime, giving Iowa a 19-0 cushion. The 6-play drive covered 36 yards and the biggest play was a 13-yard scramble by Stanzi. Greene added a 9-yard run and Stanzi completed an 8-yard pass to Myers that took the ball to the Black Bear 19.

Daniel Murray’s duties up to the 1:33 point of the second quarter consisted of handling kickoffs. Then he was called on for a 44-yard field goal attempt and the Iowa City native did not disappoint, splitting the uprights and giving the Hawkeyes a 22-0 advantage.

A nice scramble out of the pocket by Farkes for 11 yards and an ensuing personal foul for a horse-collar tackle against Edds moved the Black Bears within scoring distance at the end of the first half. It wasn’t pretty, but Maine kicker Brian Harvey wobbled a 40-yard field goal over the uprights as time ran out on the first 30 minutes. The Black Bears executed the 2-minute drill in 1:33, covering 63 yards on eight plays.

The Big Ten Network will air an encore performance of Iowa’s victory over Maine Sunday at 6 p.m. Iowa time. For a full schedule of UI content on the Big Ten Network, click HERE.

The second half opened with another Hawkeye field goal — this one by Mossbrucker from 33 yards — and more importantly, three additional points for Iowa, which upped its advantage to 25-3.

O’Meara, a former walk-on from nearby Cedar Rapids Washington, went untouched into the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter from a yard out. Murray’s PAT made it 32-3. By the time 17 seconds had been erased from the fourth quarter game clock, the Hawkeyes had scored two touchdowns. Pat Angerer intercepted a Farkas pass with 14:51 left in the game, and on the next play — his first as a Hawkeye — Hampton rumbled 19 yards for a touchdown and the points continued to pile up to the tune of 39-3.

The exclamation point for the Hawkeyes was a real jewel in the form of Hampton’s second career touchdown run with 3:29 remaining. On fourth-and-6 from the 22, the shifty Hampton ran away and through several Black Bear defenders making the 46-3 final.

Iowa’s defense emptied the sideline and surrendered 220 yards, including 154 on the ground.

“We gave up a little more than I like to see,” Ferentz said. “If we’re going to be a good football team, we’re going to have to stop the run.”

Defensive end Adrian Clayborn led the Hawkeyes with eight tackles and two breakups. Edds had seven and Pat Angerer and Christian Ballard had five each.

The Black Bears glorify themselves in these clashes with collegiate giants — and it all started during Ferentz’s tenure at Maine. In 1990, the first for Ferentz in Orono, the Black Bears lost at Hawaii, 44-3. The next season Maine fell 23 points shy of Rutgers during a 40-17 decision. There was the lone upset — 9-7 at Mississippi State in 2004 — but there was no shocker this afternoon at a sun-soaked Kinnick Stadium.