Nov. 29, 2013
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LINCOLN, Neb. — Make room for the Heroes Trophy in Iowa City.
The University of Iowa football team downed Nebraska, 38-17, in the Hy-Vee Heroes Game to take possession of the Heroes Trophy for the first time in program history. The victory is the Hawkeyes’ first win over the Huskers since 1981 and first in Lincoln since 1943.
“I am thrilled with our football team right now, I am proud of them and am happy to get the victory today,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. “It was a hard-fought game against a good Nebraska football team. I am proud of how our guys fought through the entire game and came away with the victory.”
The Hawkeyes finished with 281 yards of total offense, rushing for 155 yards on 44 carries and 126 through the air. Nebraska gained 288 yards (89 on the ground and 199 passing). Iowa forced the Huskers into three turnovers that led to 14 points. Senior Christian Kirksey paced Iowa with 11 tackles, including a sack, while seniors Tanner Miller and James Morris had 10 tackles apiece.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock completed 9-of-15 attempts for 126 yards and two touchdowns before leaving in the third quarter with a leg injury. Running backs Mark Weisman and Jordan Canzeri combined for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Weisman had 72 yards on 24 carries with two scores, while Canzeri had 59 yards on just six attempts. Senior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz had three catches for 23 yards and a score.
Nebraska quarterback Ron Kellogg III completed 19-of-37 attempts for 199 yards and a touchdown, but was picked off twice. Running back Ameer Abdullah rushed for 85 yards on 23 carries — 49 yards below his season average. Kenny Bell made seven catches for 67 yards.
After trailing 14-3 at the break, Nebraska looked like different team coming out of the locker room, moving 75 yards over 11 plays. Abdullah opened the series with three rushes for 19 yards to the 44 before Kellogg III found Bell underneath for 12 yards into Iowa territory.
The Huskers moved into the red zone via consecutive completions of 10 and 13 yards to the 16 before Abdullah scored four plays later on a 5-yard run up the middle, making the score 14-10. Nebraska gained 58 yards its first five possessions; the Huskers had 134 yards on their final drive of first half and first drive of second half.
With the momentum on Nebraska’s side, the Hawkeyes used an eight-play, 70-yard drive to provide an answer. On third-and-3 from its own 24, Rudock had all day in the pocket before connecting with junior Kevonte Martin-Manleyfor a 36-yard gain to the Nebraska 40.
Two plays later Iowa gained 27 yards via a pair of Husker penalties. The first was a 12-yard pass interference call and second was a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. After a pair of Weisman rushes to the 13, Iowa missed a golden opportunity when Martin-Manley dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone, forcing the Hawkeyes to settle on Mike Meyer’s 31-yard field goal to make the score 17-10.
Iowa’s took advantage of a Pelini gamble to push the lead to 24-10. On fourth-and-3 from its own 32, Nebraska punter Sam Foltz was stopped for an 8-yard loss on a fake punt. On the first Iowa play offensively, Rudock connected with a diving Martin-Manley for a 24-yard touchdown pass. It was Martin-Manley’s fourth touchdown catch on the year.
Nebraska used a 10-play, 71-yard drive to cut the lead to 24-17 on its first drive of the fourth quarter. On fourth-and-3 from the Iowa 15, Kellogg III connected with Quincy Enunwa for a 15-yard touchdown reception.
After a three-and-out by the Iowa offense, the Hawkeye defense forced its third turnover. Abdullah rushed up the middle where he was sandwiched by senior linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Kirksey. Kirksey knocked the ball out from the back side of the play where junior Louis Trinca-Pasat recovered at the 39.
Canzeri burst for a 37-yard gain on a zone read play down to the Nebraska 2. On the next play, Weisman scored his second touchdown of the game to give the Hawkeyes a 31-17 lead with 9:17 remaining.
Iowa scored its final touchdown with a five-play, 27-yard drive after Nebraska turned the ball over on downs. The Hawkeyes ran on all five plays before redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard scored on a naked boot leg to push the Iowa lead to 38-17.
Iowa’s defense forced turnovers on the first two Nebraska drives, but came away empty-handed. The Huskers used a flea-flicker on the first play of the game for a 25-yard gain to the 40, and two plays later Kellogg III had a 12-yard completion to Enunwa to move into Iowa territory.
The Huskers had a 32-yard completion to Taariq Allen negated when the wide receiver was called for illegal touching. On the next play, Hitchens intercepted a pass intended for Brandon Reilly and returned the pick 18 yards to the Nebraska 44.
Iowa moved the ball 20 yards to the 24 yard line via five rushes, but the drive was thwarted when Weisman was stopped on fourth-and-1.
On the second play of the ensuing Nebraska drive, Iowa’s defense struck again when Kellogg III’s attempt was intercepted Morris, giving the Hawkeyes a first-and-10 from the 25. Iowa capitalized on the short field, moving the 25 yards over seven plays to take a 7-0 lead.
Canzeri started the drive with a 10-yard burst up the middle on his first carry of the game, and senior Don Shumpert snagged a third-and-4 pass to give Iowa a first-and-goal from the 4. After consecutive 3-yard losses, Rudock connected with Fiedorowicz on a diving 10-yard touchdown catch. It was Fiedorowicz’s sixth touchdown reception this season, five of which have come on third down.
Sophomore punter Connor Kornbrath helped swing the field position with back-to-back punts to the 1 and 3 yard line. Iowa came away empty-handed after taking over at the Nebraska 39, but on its next drive, the Hawkeyes scored via a three-play, 41-yard drive.
Rudock opened the series with a 29-yard completion to Canzeri out of the backfield down to the 12-yard line. On the next carry, Weisman broke three tackles en route to gaining 11 yards in a play that was initially ruled a touchdown. After calling the play dead at the half yard line, Weisman burst off left tackle untouched to give Iowa a 14-0 advantage.
Nebraska sustained its only first half drive on the next series, moving 59 yards over 11 plays. Kellogg III found tight end Jake Long wide open on the Iowa sideline for 18 yards to the Iowa 33 and Imani Cross for 14 yards on the next play into the red zone. The Hawkeyes buckled down, forcing the Huskers to settle for Pat Smith’s 33-yard field goal, making the score 14-3 with 31 seconds to play in the first half.
Iowa (8-4, 5-3) now awaits its bowl fate when the official announcement comes Dec. 8.