Special Teams Very Special for Hawkeyes

Sept. 5, 2009

Box Score

IOWA CITY, Iowa–The Hawkeye Radio Network’s Ed Podolak, the former University of Iowa all-American and NFL all-Pro, chalked it up to the presence of Hall of Fame head coach Hayden Fry in the Paul W. Brechler Press Box at historic Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa blocked a game-winning field goal attempt by the visiting Northern Iowa not just once but twice to claim a 17-16 victory over the nationally ranked Panthers before a sellout and sun-drenched crowd at historic Kinnick Stadium.

“There’s no other explanation,” smiled Eddie, seconds after arguably the most unusual finish in the 80-year history of the University’s much-beloved football stadium.

“Chalk it up to FRYfest and the presence of the great Hayden Fry in the press box today. There’s just no other way to explain it.”

Well, yes, there are explanations. Iowa’s special teams units came up big in the Hawkeyes’ season opener.

Broderick Binns was credited with the block of UNI placekicker Billy Halgren’s 40-yard attempt with seven seconds on the game clock. However, the attempt came on first down and, when the kick was recovered by the Panthers with one tick remaining to play, the visiting David – a powerhouse in the Football Championship Series – had a chance to knock off Galiath – a nationally-ranked Big Ten Conference team playing on its home field.

So – as unlikely as it was – Iowa’s field goal defense unit did it again. This time the Hawkeye hero appeared to be Jeremiha HunterHunter. And, this time it didn’t matter who recovered the spinning pigskin. Zeroes filled the spaces in the game time slots on the scoreboard.

The Big Ten Network will replay its broadcast of Iowa-Northern Iowa Sunday at 6 p.m.

Game over. Iowa survived a game it knew was going to be a battle.

“I doubt if anyone in the stadium has ever experienced anything like that,” an exhausted Kirk Ferentz said afterward. “The first kick was low and we appeared to get a very good push and Broderick used his long arms smartly.

“I also learned that the clocked stopped like it was an incomplete pass,” he added. “I’ve never seen it before. But I’ve learned a little bit. Really, really unusual.

Ferentz said the Hawkeyes remained focused and was ready for Kick No. 2.

“The credit goes to UNI. They came ready and outplayed us. We weren’t up to the task,” Ferentz said of the game. “We made mistakes, we didn’t convert when we needed to, we allowed long drives. We were very, very fortunate to come out victorious.”

“They controlled both lines,” Ferentz added. “Their quarterback played well and the running back ran hard. They have a very solid football team.

“I doubt if anyone in the stadium has ever experienced anything like that. The first kick was low and got a very good push and Broderick used his long arms smartly.
Kirk Ferentz

Iowa punter Ryan Donohue was another special teamer that came up big for the home team. The talented junior averaged 42.8 yard on five kicks including a long of 56. Donohue also nailed a 46-yarder into the wind that forced the Panthers begin their quest for victory from their own eight-yard line.

“Ryan was by far the best performer out there for us. He had a great camp and a nice year ay year ago,” said Ferentz, who improved to 9-2 in season opening games as the Hawkeyes’ head coach.

Iowa returns to action next Saturday with the annual Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series game against intrastate rival Iowa State. The game will be played in Ames and will kick shortly after 11 a.m. Iowa time.

“We knew the month of September was going to be a challenge for us. We played a very good opponent today. We have a very good opponent next week. We simply need to get to work and make improvement week over week,” said Ferentz.