Hawkeyes Set Record With 27-24 Victory

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Dec. 29, 2010

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TEMPE, Ariz. — It was another history-making night for head coach Kirk Ferentz and the University of Iowa football team.

The underdog Hawkeyes (8-5) turned a month-long mission into a 27-24 victory over No. 12 Missouri (10-3) in the Insight Bowl on Tuesday at Sun Devil Stadium. Iowa won its third consecutive bowl game for the first time in school history.

Twenty-five Hawkeye seniors bid farewell to their college playing careers and they can give a high-five to a pair of youngsters for sending them out a winner. True freshman running back Marcus Coker carried the ball 33 times for 219 yards and two touchdowns; sophomore cornerback Micah Hyde provided the go-ahead touchdown with 72-yard interception return with 5:32 remaining. Coker was named the game’s offensive MVP and Hyde was the defensive MVP.

“Our seniors — there are 25 great guys in the class — and they leave with 28 wins and three bowl wins in the last three years,” Ferentz said. “We knew this was going to be tough and it certainly was. Special teams impacted the game positively for us.”

Coker set an Iowa bowl record with his rushing attempts and yardage. The previous mark was Bob Jeter’s total of 194 yards (nine attempts) against California in the 1959 Rose Bowl. The previous record of 29 rushing attempts was set by Shonn Greene against South Carolina in the 2009 Outback Bowl.

“I knew before the game that our offensive line was going to do a great job,” Coker said.

The theft is the fourth of the season for Hyde and his second score (he had a 66-yard touchdown against Michigan State).

“I stepped in front of it and our defense turned it into an offensive play,” Hyde said. “It was a great team effort.”

“It was a great effort by our players,” Ferentz said. “Each and every guy on our roster did a great job against a fantastic opponent.”

It’s a shame it took 100 years to make this game a reality. The matchup had everything for any kind of football fan: Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert completed 41 of 57 passes for 434 yards and a touchdown, but he was intercepted twice; Tiger receiver T.J. Moe caught 15 passes for 152 yards. On the other side, the 19-year old Coker powered his way through the Tiger defense, reminiscent of the Big Ten grind-it-out teams of yesteryear.

Coker set an Iowa bowl record with his rushing attempts and yardage. The previous mark was Bob Jeter’s total of 194 yards (nine attempts) against California in the 1959 Rose Bowl. The previous record of 29 rushing attempts was set by Shonn Greene against South Carolina in the 2009 Outback Bowl.

During the week, Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe was asked if he thought the Hawkeye offense was creative enough during the season; perhaps the question is better suited for Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel. Iowa was faced with third-and-3 from the Missouri 40 with 53 seconds left when the Hawkeyes out-foxed the Tiger defense by rolling quarterback Ricky Stanzi to his right and throwing a perfect strike to tight end Allen Reisner for 39 yards to clinch the victory. Reisner flipped into the end zone after a tackle by Kevin Rutland, but was ruled down at the 1 with 42 seconds left. Iowa downed the ball to end the game.

Stanzi completed 11 of 21 passes for 200 yards. UI free safety Brett Greenwood led all players with 11 tackles and an interception.

“This month was all about getting back to work,” Stanzi said. “It paid off on the field tonight with a nice team victory.”

Stanzi and Marvin McNutt set the tone on the third play of the game. Faced with a third-and-5 from their own 38, they connected for a 49-yard completion that took the ball to the Missouri 10. Coker ran five straight times and scored from a yard out with 10:32 left in the first quarter. The point-after kick by Mike Meyer made the score 7-0. Coker carried the ball seven times for 18 drives on the opening eight-play drive.

Missouri answered with a 16-play 75-yard drive, but Iowa’s defense held the Tigers to a 23-yard field goal by Grant Ressel and maintained a 7-3 edge with 3:53 left in the first period. The biggest play was a 24-yard completion from Gabbert to wide receiver Jerrell Jackson on third-and-19.

A 62-yard touchdown run by Coker — the longest of season — gave the Hawkeyes a 14-3 lead with 13:26 left in the half. After forcing a three-and-out, Stanzi found a wide-open Reisner for six yards on first down before Coker broke through for the scoring sprint. That gave Coker 89 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns, just 35 plays into the game.

The Iowa defense turned in its second straight stop on a series where the Tigers ran three running plays and had just two completions, although one was a 33-yard diving grab by Wes Kemp. Coker went over the 100-yard mark with an 11-yard gain on Iowa’s next snap. Other big plays were a 13-yard completion from Stanzi to Colin Sandeman and a 38-yard throw and catch by Stanzi and Don Nordmann. Meyer extended the Hawkeye lead to 17-3 with a 34-yard field goal from the right hash with 7:28 remaining before halftime.

Missouri clawed back to make it 17-10 on a 10-yard run by Henry Josey. The Tigers went 82 yards on nine plays in 2:31, catching Iowa on a blitz on the scoring run with 4:51 left in the half. Missouri was inching toward the Iowa end zone and a possibly tie score at the end of the half, but Gabbert’s 31st pass attempt of the first half — intended for Jackson — was tipped by Shaun Prater and picked off by Greenwood in the end zone with 28 seconds left.

While Gabbert was chucking the ball all over the stadium, the Hawkeyes used their trademark balance to gain 243 yards on the first half — including 113 rushing on 16 carries by Coker. Stanzi completed 6 of 10 passes for 124 yards. Gabbert completed 23 of 31 passes for 284 yards and an interception. He was sacked twice. The Tigers ran 46 plays to Iowa’s 28.

Iowa’s defense did its job as the third quarter opened, holding Missouri to four plays and no points. Thirteen plays and more than six minutes later, the Hawkeyes extended their lead to 20-10 on a 21-yard field goal by Meyer. Iowa started that drive from its own 3 and moved all the way to the Missouri 4 before the field goal.

Gabbert used his legs to score from seven yards with 4:34 left in the third quarter, cutting Iowa’s lead to 20-17. Missouri covered 77 yards in 2:32.

The Tigers then capitalized on an Iowa turnover to take their first lead of the game, 24-20, with 54 seconds left in the third period. Paul Chaney, Jr., returned the kickoff following the Gabbert touchdown run from his end zone to the Iowa 38. Coker rushed 10 yards to the 48, then Stanzi tried to air it out to McNutt, but the pass was intercepted by Rutland at the Missouri 18 and returned 25 yards. Nine plays later, Gabbert completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Michael Egnew.

Iowa’s defense made a big stop and the Tigers were forced to punt. Coker rushed three times for 11 times, then Stanzi’s pass intended for tight end Brad Herman was intercepted at the Missouri 31 by Jarrell Harrison.

The second interception thrown by Gabbert proved to be even more costly. Missouri completed five straight passes before Hawkeye sophomore Micah Hyde stepped in front of a pass, reversed field, picked up huge blocks by Jordan Bernstine and Prater and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown with 5:32 left in the game. Meyer’s PAT hit the upright but bounced through to give Iowa a 27-24 lead.

“I just got greedy,” Gabbert said. “The guy (Hyde) made a great play and that’s all I can say about that. I forced it.”

Gabbert went from padding his passing stats to throwing for his postseason life. In the end, an official overturned a would-be fourth-and-7 10-yard completion to Moe, and Coker went to work on the game clock.

“I thought I had it,” Moe said.

The play was originally ruled a catch, but it was overturned after a lengthy review. On the replay it appeared Moe got his hands under the ball, but the ball bounced off the front of his helmet and onto the turf for an incompletion.

Missouri vs. Iowa 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Missouri Tigers 3 7 14 0 24
Iowa Hawkeyes 7 10 3 7 27
Iowa Statistical Leaders
Passing: Ricky Stanzi 11-21-2 200
Rushing: Marcus Coker 33-219-2
Receiving: Colin Sandeman 4-44, Allen Reisner 3-50
Tackles: Brett Greenwood 11, Shaun Prater 9, James Morris 7