Killer B's Lift the Hawkeye Defense

Oct. 15, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Broderick Binns will talk for years about the time he didn’t sack Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa.

The fact the University of Iowa’s senior defensive end didn’t pull down the reigning first team All-Big Ten Conference quarterback led to the Hawkeyes taking a 10-0 first-quarter lead in a game they won 41-31.

Here’s the play: Northwestern had first-and-goal from Iowa’s 7 when Persa took a snap. Binns broke through the Wildcat line and was clinging to Persa’s leg when UI teammate Steve Bigach raced in to lend a hand.

Persa didn’t go down, but the Wildcat momentum certainly did. A rushed and errant throw was intercepted by Hawkeye free safety Tanner Miller who returned it 98 yards for a touchdown.

“It should have been a sack, but elusive Persa got away from me,” Binns said. “He shrugged me off and I held onto his feet. I saw Steve Bigach come in to help me out, then I see Tanner Miller running down the sideline, It was a good play for us. Scoring on defense is one of our goals.”

Binns finished the game with three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. And the Hawkeyes snapped a three-game losing streak to Northwestern to improve to 4-2 overall, 1-1 in the Big Ten.

As big a play as the Binns hurry turned out to be, it wasn’t the personal highlight for the 6-foot-2, 261-pounder from St. Paul, Minn. That distinction belongs to a fourth-quarter sack of Persa, which caused a fumble that was recovered by Bigach.

“That gave our offense a chance to score points,” Binns said.

Bigach will talk for years about his first career start. He finished with five tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.

“I’m just glad we won the game,” Bigach said. “Getting the ball back when we needed the ball back was big.”

Iowa was leading by two touchdowns with just under nine minutes left at the time of Bigach’s recovery. The Hawkeyes converted the turnover into three crucial points, extending their lead to three possessions at 34-17.

Bigach relished the opportunity to butt helmets against Persa, a player who has caused so much heartbreak to Hawkeye fans.

“It’s fun. You want to play the best guys,” Bigach said. “It’s tough chasing a guy like that around, that’s for sure. Anybody who knows football knows that Dan Persa is a heck of a football player.”

Persa played a major role in helping the Wildcats accumulate 495 yards and convert 16 of 22 chances on third down. But as Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald so astutely pointed out, it’s not about yards, it’s about points. And Iowa put up 41 on this day — the most against the Wildcats since winning 62-10 in 2002.

The Hawkeye defense was on the field for 92 plays and 38 minutes, 23 seconds. The line combined for 27 tackles, four quarterback hurries and three sacks.

“It’s easier said than done,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said, of pressuring Persa and his backup Kain Colter. “Our guys worked hard up front. They were digging and forcing some pressure and they did it a little short-handed. I was proud of Steve Bigach jumping in there and Dominic Alvis did a lot of good things out there.”

Starting defensive tackle Thomas Nardo did not play and starting defensive end Lebron Daniel left with an injury.

Iowa will look for its fifth consecutive win inside Kinnick Stadium when it hosts Indiana for Homecoming on Oct. 22. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. (CT).