Home streak intercepted in Ames, 35-3

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Sept. 12, 2009

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AMES, Iowa — Five years of home triumphs in the Iowa-Iowa State football series ended this afternoon as the visiting Hawkeyes dominated the final three quarters and coasted to a 35-3 victory in Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa has now won two straight in the series and five of the last seven.

The Hawkeyes are off to a 2-0 start, have won six games in a row dating back to last November, and will host Pac-10 foe Arizona on Saturday, Sept. 19, with a 2:35 p.m. start at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa State is 1-1.

Iowa strong safety Tyler Sash tied a school record with three pass interceptions and led a Hawkeye defense that forced six turnovers — five interceptions and a fumble. Offensively, freshman running back Brandon Wegher gained 101 yards on 15 carries and quarterback Ricky Stanzi completed 18 of 34 passes for 197 yards and four touchdowns.

“We knew there would be opportunities for interceptions, we just didn’t know who was going to get them,” said Sash, who also had a team-high 10 tackles. “Our defense played well, our offense played well and we got the job done.”

The Hawkeyes flashed their offensive balance and power once again, gaining 426 total yards (235 passing, 191 rushing). Iowa converted 8 of 13 times on third down and capitalized 5 of 6 times in the red zone. The five Hawkeye interceptions is the most since snagging five during a 59-0 win against Illinois on Nov. 9, 1985.

“Fortunately we were able to capitalize on some of the turnovers as the game went on,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Credit goes to our players. They did a great job.”

The rivalry got off to a charitable beginning with the teams trading interceptions on their initial drives. Cyclone strong safety David Sims picked off a first-and-10 offering from Stanzi, thanks to a quarterback hurry by middle linebacker Jesse Smith. Sash got the ball back three plays later when he intercepted Austen Arnaud and returned the ball 21 yards to the Iowa State 34. Neither team capitalized on the turnovers.

The Hawkeyes came out chucking on their opening drive, putting the ball in the air four straight times. The biggest gain was a 24-yard completion from Stanzi to Marvin McNutt on third-and-11.

Iowa State struck first with 2:33 left in the first quarter to a take a 3-0 lead following an 11-play, 46-yard drive. Cyclone kicker Grant Mahoney was successful on a 46-yard field goal to culminate the four-plus minute drive.

“We planned to get his feet wet and I think he more than earned our confidence.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
on Brandon Wegher

The lead was short-lived. Whatever momentum Iowa State had after the field goal, it quickly evaporated when the Cyclones were unsuccessful on an on-side kick attempt. Not only did the Hawkeye Bruce Davis recover, but Iowa Sate was off-side, giving Iowa the ball to start a drive at the Cyclone 41.

“That was a heads-up play by Bruce Davis,” Ferentz said. We’re always alert to that possibility.”

On second down, Stanzi completed a 17-yard pass to Trey Stross, who was shoved out-of-bounds by Iowa State cornerback Kennard Banks. The personal foul penalty put the ball on the Iowa State 12. An 11-yard run by Hawkeye running back Adam Robinson was followed by a 1-yard scoring toss from Stanzi to fullback Brett Morse. The PAT kick by Daniel Murray gave Iowa a 7-3 edge with 1:43 left in the quarter. It was the first career touchdown reception for Morse.

Wegher and fellow freshman Keenan Davis hauled in their first career receptions during a 10-play drive that ended when Sims intercepted his second pass of the game and returned it 41 yards to the Iowa State 45. Wegher made a nice one-handed catch-and-run for 12 yards. Davis made a reception and plowed through a Cyclone defender for an 11-yard gain.

Sash countered Sims in the take-away category, picking off his second Arnaud aerial after it was tipped by Iowa free safety Brett Greenwood. Sash returned the ball 21 yards to the Cyclone 8. Stanzi completed the only two passing attempts of the drive– the second going for an 18-yard scoring toss to Derrell-Johnson Koulianos with 2:56 left in the half. Murray’s PAT gave the Hawkeyes a 14-3 lead.

“We knew there would be opportunities for interceptions, we just didn’t know who was going to get them.”
UI strong safety
Tyler Sash

Greenwood snagged an interception of another Arnaud pass with 1:47 left in the half. With the Hawkeye drive beginning from their own 3, Iowa ran three running plays — the third a 16-yard pick-up by Robinson — and closed the first half with an 11-point advantage.

Iowa controlled almost 11 minutes of the second quarter, giving the Hawkeyes a 16:04 to 13:56 edge at the break. The Hawkeyes also had five more first downs (12 to 7) and 20 more total yards (171 to 151). Stanzi completed 12 passes to seven different receivers.

Iowa turned its fourth turnover of the game into a 21-3 lead on the first drive of the second half. Hawkeye linebacker Jeremiha Hunter recovered a fumble by Cyclone Alexander Robinson on the Iowa State 48 and Iowa responded with an eight-play, 48-yard scoring drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Stanzi to tight end Allen Reisner.

Not to be outdone by his fellow safety, Greenwood gathered his second interception of the game (Iowa State’s fifth turnover) that led to a 1-yard scoring dive by Wegher. The four-play drive included a 14-yard run by Wegher a 39-yard reception from Stanzi to Stross and a 4-yard run by Wegher that was initially ruled a score. Murray’s fourth straight PAT gave the Hawkeyes a 28-3 cushion.

Sash tied the school record with his third pass interception with just over 11 minutes left in the game. The sixth takeaway of the game led to 28 Iowa points as Wegher and Davis glowed again on 12-play, 84-yard touchdown drive that made the score 35-3. Wegher rushed seven times for 64 yards and Davis caught a 10-yard touchdown pass.

“I’m not sure we saw that coming (five interceptions),” Ferentz said. “Our defensive staff did a nice job putting a game plan in. We got some momentum and started hawking the ball.”

The final result is Iowa’s largest victory in the series since a 63-20 decision in 1997.