Mother Nature Can't Stop Iowa in Opener

Stats | Boxscore

Sept. 3, 2011

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Mother Nature didn’t cooperate, forcing a one hour and 24 minute weather delay in the third quarter, but the University of Iowa football team posted its 11th straight season-opening victory with a 34-7 win over Tennessee Tech inside Kinnick Stadium.

“Obviously, we’re pleased to get the win,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. “Needless to say it was a pretty unusual circumstance today, something I don’t think any of us have experienced during the course of a game. I give our players credit for doing a good job of handling that.”

The Hawkeyes had 394 yards of total offense — 148 on the ground and 243 through the air. Junior James Vandenberg went 13-of-21 for 216 yards with two touchdowns — both to senior Marvin McNutt, Jr. — and freshman Mika’il McCall led the team with 61 yards on nine carries before going down with a season-ending lower leg injury. McNutt finished the game with six receptions for 142 yards.

The Iowa defense forced a pair of Golden Eagle turnovers, and sophomore linebackers James Morris and Christian Kirksey led the team with 10 tackles apiece.

After scoring three points on a Mike Meyer field goal in the opening quarter, the Iowa offense found its footing in the second quarter, putting up 24 points to take control of the game.

Vandenberg led the Hawkeyes down the field for its first touchdown, completing all four passing attempts, and carrying the ball four times for 10 yards. Junior wide receiver Keenan Davis made the key catch on the drive, out-jumping TTU cornerback Caleb Mitchel on a fade route before tipping the ball and securing possession at the half yard line. Vandenberg then followed the left side of his line into the end zone to give Iowa a 10-0 lead with 10:38 remaining in the half.

Iowa’s second strike came via the Vandenberg-to-McNutt variety. After taking possession at the 18-yard line, and the Hawkeyes went backwards — six yards to the 12. Vandenberg then hit pay dirt, finding McNutt on the Golden Eagle sideline, where he rumbled 88 yards for a touchdown. The play was the sixth longest pass in UI history.

Iowa’s defense contributed to the third and fourth scoring drives in the quarter, helping the Hawkeyes build a 27-0 halftime lead. With the Golden Eagles moving the ball to midfield, Morris intercepted Tennessee Tech quarterback Tre Lamb’s pass at the 44 yard line before reverting to his high school playing days as a running back. The Solon, Iowa, native returned the ball 52 yards to the 9 yard line, which set up a Meyer 20-yard field goal.

After taking possession with 3:18 left in the half, the Golden Eagles moved the ball in its hurry-up offense, advancing to the Iowa 37. Lamb misfired on a long out to Doug Page at the Iowa 11-yard line, where defensive back Shaun Prater snatched an interception at the 11 before rumbling 89 yards for the score. Junior safety Micah Hyde threw the touchdown springing block on Page at the TTU 30. It was the fifth longest return in the record books.

In the second half, Tennessee Tech received the kickoff and drove 60 yards to the Iowa 16 yard line. The Golden Eagles’ Matthew Barker missed a 33-yard field goal wide left, giving Iowa possession on its 20 yardline.

The Hawkeyes used a 10-play drive over a 4:28 stretch to push their advantage to 34-0. Vandenberg found McNutt on a 19-yard bubble screen for his second touchdown reception of the day. After forcing a 3-and-out during a torrential down pour, Iowa took over at the its 40-yard line following a 7-yard punt. The Hawkeyes ran two plays, before play was halted at 1:23 p.m. Eight-four minutes later — at 2:47 p.m. — A.J. Derby made his UI debut under center.

Tennessee Tech avoided the shutout with a late scoring drive against Iowa’s second team defense. The Golden Eagles went 76 yards on 16 plays over nearly eight minutes before Dontey Gay scored on a 1-yard run with 5:05 left in the game.

The Hawkeyes rode the back of McCall en route to its first points of the game and season. The Illinois native rushed 8-yards on his first collegiate attempt and carried six times for 34 yards down to the Tennessee Tech 24-yardline on Iowa’s second possession. After the drive stalled, Meyer converted a 39-yard field goal, making the score 3-0 with 5:10 left in the first quarter.

“We’re 1-0 with a lot of work to do,” said Ferentz. “It’s pretty much as simple as that. We have a great teaching film to work off of here. We have a lot of guys that are capable of playing a lot better and that is the thing we will have to do not only this week, but this month, for us to push forward.”

Iowa (1-0) returns to action on Sept. 10 at Iowa State in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series.

Iowa 34, Tennessee Tech 7 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Tennessee Tech (0-1) 0 0 0 7 7
Iowa (1-0) 3 24 7 0 34
Iowa Statistical Leaders
Passing: James Vandenberg 13-21-0 219 2 TD
Rushing: Mika’il McCall 9-61-0
Receiving: Marvin McNutt 6-140-2
Tackles: Christian Kirksey 10, James Morris 10