Kirksey has a Big Day

Nov. 4, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Not a lot typically happens in 12 seconds of a 60-minute college football game. But it was a splendid 12 ticks of the clock Saturday that saw the University of Iowa football team score two touchdowns and take a 14-0 lead on the road at Indiana.

Sophomore wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley, who finished the afternoon with seven receptions and a game-high 131 yards, started the scoring with a 24-yard touchdown catch with 7:20 left in the first period. It was the first time the Hawkeyes had scored first in a game since a 31-13 win against Minnesota on Sept. 29.

The next two plays were also strong indications that it could be Iowa’s day. Indiana leads the Big Ten Conference in kickoff returns, thanks to speedy freshman Tevin Coleman, who entered the game averaging 26.7 yards on 15 returns (his long was a 96-yard touchdown against Northwestern).

Mike Meyer’s ensuing kickoff traveled to the Indiana 2-yard line, where Coleman began his return…only to be stopped 14 yards later by Hawkeye true freshman Kevin Buford. On first down, Hoosier quarterback Nate Sudfeld had a pass intercepted by Iowa junior linebacker Christian Kirksey, who returned it 18 yards for a score.

Twelve seconds, 14 points for the Hawkeyes.

Kirksey went on to have quite a day. Along with the “pick six” interception, he was in on eight tackles (six solo) and recovered a fumble midway through the fourth quarter, with the Hoosiers driving to the Hawkeye 19.

“Coach always tells us to either create a score or help the offense score. Getting scores on defense is one thing we work on.”
Christian Kirksey
UI linebacker

Iowa’s defense was faced with the task of slowing an Indiana team that entered the game leading the conference in pass offense, second in total offense, and third in scoring offense. The Hoosiers hadn’t been held to 24 points since a season-opening win at home against Indiana State on Sept. 1.

“We played better on defense,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Other than a couple plays, we played a lot better. We played tough and we played through tough situations. I’m proud of their effort.”

Kirksey was the creator/benefactor of two of the biggest defensive plays.

“Coach always tells us to either create a score or help the offense score,” Kirksey said. “Getting scores on defense is one thing we work on.”

Kirksey was sitting in a “simple zone” on that eventful play in the first quarter, reading Sudfeld’s eyes as they locked on a receiver running a slant pattern.

“I just sat there and the quarterback threw it right to me,” Kirskey said. “But you can’t dwell on that one play. You score and you move on to the next play because you know you’re going back on defense.”

The second big play by Kirksey came easier than the first. Indiana was faced with third-and-1 from Iowa’s 19 when an intended handoff to running back Stephen Houston hit the turf.

“I saw the ball bobbling and as soon as it hit the ground, I went for it,” Kirksey said.

The end results didn’t tilt in favor of the Hawkeyes on Saturday. A quick 14-0 lead was erased and Iowa lost, 24-21. A Hawkeye defense that was so stout on so many snaps, eventually yielded 473 yards — 406 through the air.

“We played hard,” Kirksey said. “We were fired up and playing with a lot of effort. Sometimes things don’t go your way. Give credit to the Indiana offense, they made plays when it was time to make them.”

Iowa (4-5 overall, 2-3 Big Ten) returns to Kinnick Stadium on Nov. 10 to face Purdue (3-6, 0-5).