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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa defense forced four turnovers in Saturday’s Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup against Iowa State, but the Hawkeyes couldn’t find the end zone when it counted in a 9-6 setback to the Cyclones inside Kinnick Stadium.
The victory is Iowa State’s second consecutive win in the series and improves the team’s record to 2-0 on the season. Iowa is now 1-1 with Northern Iowa looming next weekend in Iowa City.
“Give Iowa State credit, they outplayed us today and deserved to win the football game,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. “It was hard fought on both sides. We are certainly disappointed to come out on the short end, but the credit goes to them.”
The Hawkeyes had their backs to the wall with Iowa State driving in for the game-clinching touchdown late in the fourth quarter. On third and 9 from the Iowa 43, Cyclone quarterback Steele Jantz eluded the Hawkeye pressure before scrambling 20 yards up the middle to gain a first down at the 27.
After directing the Cyclones to the 2-yard line, Jantz telegraphed a pass to wide receiver Jarvis West in the middle of the field. Iowa’s James Morris intercepted the attempt in the end zone before returning the ball 49 yards to midfield, giving the Hawkeyes new life with 3:23 remaining.
“In the second half, the defense really grew up a little bit,” said Ferentz. “We were more decisive, more confident, and it certainly didn’t hurt that a couple of guys made some plays there, too. The guys are fighting in there, and we’ll try to build on that.”
Iowa came up empty on its first three downs before quarterback James Vandenberglooked in junior Don Shumpert’s direction on fourth down. The ball caromed off of Shumpert’s hands, giving the Cyclones possession with 3:02 remaining.
The Hawkeye defense again did its job, forcing a three and out to give the UI offense yet another chance. Vandenberg opened with a 7-yard scramble on first down to move the ball to the 17. Following a pair of incompletions, the quarterback hooked up with senior Keenan Davis for a 29-yard gain to the 29.
After consecutive 10 and 12-yard completions to sophomore Damon Bullock, Vandenberg targeted tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz on a seam route, but Cyclone linebacker Jake Knott undercut the route and tipped it to himself for the interception to seal the ISU victory.
“It was a great effort by Knott,” said Ferentz. “It looked like he went up there and got it.”
The Cyclones outgained Iowa 342-304 in the game, but the Hawkeyes defense forced ISU into committing four turnovers. Jantz finished 24-of-36 for 241 yards with one touchdown, while gaining a team-best 40 yards on the ground. Wide receiver Aaron Horne had six catches for 73 yards with a score.
Vandenberg led the Iowa offensive attack, completing 20-of-42 attempts for 236 yards. Bullock had 22 rushing attempts for 53 yards. Davis (four catches, 75 yards) and Fiedorowicz (four catches, 61 yards) combined for eight catches for 136 yards.
Iowa’s linebacker trio combined for 40 tackles. Junior Anthony Hitchens had a career-best 19 stops, Morris had 12 tackles with an interception and fumble recovery, and junior Christian Kirksey had nine stops.
The Cyclones were also on the door step late in the third quarter. On first and 20 from midfield, Iowa State used a perfectly executed 42-yard screen pass to James White to the Iowa 9 yard line, but the Hawkeyes again held firm.
Iowa bottled White up on a pair of rushing attempts, the second of which senior Joe Gaglione met him in the backfield for a 3-yard loss. During the play, White put the ball on the turf when he attempted pitching the ball to Jantz, allowing Morris to pounce on the fumble to force Iowa State’s third turnover and keep the game within reach.
The Hawkeye offense then sustained a drive, moving 76 yards over 12 plays. Vandenberg connected with Fiedorowicz for an 18-yard gain on a seam route on the second play to the Iowa 42. Following an 8-yard gain on a screen pass, Bullock scampered 15 yards up the middle into Iowa State territory.
Vandenberg and Fiedorowicz followed with a 20-yard pitch and catch to the ISU-15. On third-and-7 from the 12, Davis had a 9-yard reception, giving the Hawkeyes first and goal from the 3. Iowa couldn’t find the end zone on a pair of Bullock runs on first and second down, and Vandenberg’s third down attempt was dropped by fullback Mark Weisman’s on a broken play in the end zone. Junior kicker Mike Meyer’s 21-yard field goal cut the deficit to 9-6.
Iowa was fortunate to trail by just six points in the first half, as the Cyclones held a 232-131 advantage in total yards and a 14-7 edge in first downs. Iowa State moved the ball consistently over the 30 minutes, advancing three times into the red zone.
The Cyclones used a 10-play, 75-yard opening drive to take the early 6-0 lead. Jantz went 5-of-5 for 46 yards in the series, which included a 5-yard touchdown toss to Horne on a third-and-goal from the 5. With a strong wind out of the north, ISU kicker Edwin Arceo missed the PAT.
The Hawkeye offense responded with a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive to cut the lead in half. On second-and-11 from the 37, Vandenberg completed a 10-yard strike to Kevonte Martin-Manley to move the ball near midfield. Following a pair of Bullock rushes, Vandenberg and Davis hooked up for a 34-yard gain to the Iowa State 11.
After two Bullock rushes moved the ball to the 6, Vandenberg misfired on a third-and-6, forcing the Hawkeyes to settle for Meyer’s 23-yard field goal.
Iowa State moved the ball 66 yards over 11 plays to the Iowa 3-yard line on its second possession. Iowa defense held, forcing a three-and-out, but Iowa’s Dominic Alvis extended the Cyclone drive when he was whistled for a roughing the punter personal foul.
Iowa State was on then the verge of punching it in, advancing the ball to the 3. On second and goal, ISU’s Shontrelle Johnson took a handoff and bounced outside where he was met by senior safety Tom Donatell and senior Micah Hyde. Hyde’s hit forced a fumble and Alvis recovered giving Iowa possession on the 10 yard line.
After Iowa went three-and-out, the Cyclones used a nine play, 60-yard drive to add to the lead. On second and 9 from midfield, Jantz connected with Horne for a 40-yard gain to the Iowa 9. Iowa managed to force a field goal when Jantz’s third down pass caromed off of Ernst Brun’s hand — Jantz’s first incomplete pass — forcing the Arceo’s 22-yard chip shot field goal.
Iowa (1-1) returns to action Sept. 15, hosting Northern Iowa beginning at 2:30 p.m. The game will be televised on the BTN.
“Losses hurt; they’re supposed to hurt, and they do hurt,” said Ferentz. “The challenge is how much better can we get this coming week and how much we can improve and start to put things together.”