Nov. 21, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The fifth-ranked University of Iowa football team clinched the Big Ten West Division title with a 40-20 victory over Purdue on a cold, windy Saturday afternoon inside Kinnick Stadium.
“Today we won by 20, but it didn’t feel like that,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. “We got off to a great start in the game and then Purdue grabbed momentum. It was a 20-25 minute period where they had us on our heels a bit, but our guys fought back.
“I am proud of our football team. We’re thrilled and proud of our players. They’ve done a great job responding to the challenges week-in and week-out and all season long. It has been the nature of things, and today we had more of those to face.”
The Hawkeyes led 20-0 through 1 1/2 quarters before the Boilermakers made a game of it by scoring 13 unanswered points to make it 20-13 game early in the third quarter.
As it has all season, Iowa finished.
The Hawkeyes scored 20 of the final 27 points to close out their 11th victory — seventh in Big Ten play — to tie a school record for wins in a season. Senior Jordan Canzeri put an exclamation point on the Senior Day victory, taking a handoff and racing 42 yards for a touchdown with 2:12 left.
“These guys keep battling,” said Ferentz. “That’s one thing that has been consistent. They play hard and respond to whatever happens.”
Purdue outgained Iowa, 405-387, in the game, throwing for 268 and rushing for 137 yards. The Hawkeyes were balanced with seven rushers accounting for 174 yards on the ground, while junior quarterback C.J. Beathardcompleted 12-of-20 attempts for 213 yards, while matching a career-high with three touchdowns.
Canzeri led Iowa’s rushing attack, running for 95 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown. Junior LeShun Daniels, Jr., had 31 yards and two touchdowns, and sophomore Akrum Wadley had 23 yards on four attempts.
Iowa’s tight ends accounted for six of the 12 completions in the game. Senior Henry Krieger Coble had four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown, while his cousin, junior George Kittle, had two receptions for 49 yards and a score. Senior Tevaun Smith finished with four catches for 73 yards in his final home game.
Defensively, four Hawkeyes finished with double-digit tackles. Senior Jordan Lomax had a career-high 13 stops, including a forced fumble, while sophomore Josey Jewell (12 tackles), junior Desmond King (11 tackles, three pass breakups), and senior Cole Fisher had 10 stops.
Iowa was clicking on all cylinders to start the game, finishing off touchdown drives on its first three possessions. The Hawkeyes had 20 points on their first 21 plays. Daniels, Jr., capped off Iowa’s first scoring drive by hammering in a 2-yard touchdown run to cap off an 11 play, 74-yard drive.
The Hawkeyes needed just five plays to push their lead to two scores. Junior Matt VandeBerg had a 15-yard run on a reverse on second down before Beathard fit a pass into tight window to Smith for 15 yards into the red zone. Daniels, Jr., found the end zone a second time on the next play, scoring untouched to make the score 14-0 with 4:32 left in the quarter.
Purdue picked up its initial first down on its third series, but the drive ended seven plays in via the game’s first turnover. On first-and-10 from midfield, senior Jordan Lomax laid the wood to Boilermaker starting quarterback David Blough on a draw, forcing a fumble, which Iowa recovered on its own 48.
Beathard started the series with a beautiful back-shoulder throw to Smith for 30 yards and he capped off the five-play drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to VandeBerg on a wide receiver screen with Krieger Coble and Jacob Hillyer sealing blocks at the goal line. Senior Marshall Koehn‘s extra point was blocked, but Iowa led 20-0 with 13:40 left early in the second quarter.
Purdue’s fortunes changed with back-up quarterback Austin Appleby replacing an injured Blough under center and with the Boilermakers offense going toward the south end zone.
After flipping the field position with its special teams and defense, Purdue took over in Iowa territory six minutes into the second quarter. Appleby led the Boilermakers on an 11-play, 47-yard drive and running back Markell Jones scored from 1-yard out, cutting the deficit to 20-7 with 3:55 left.
Purdue’s kept the momentum, forcing a turnover on Iowa’s next series. Beathard took off on a designed quarterback run on second down from midfield, where Jimmy Herman jarred the ball loose and the Boilermakers recovered at its own 48.
Appleby led Purdue to the 3 with the clock winding down in the half, and it ended up being a win for the Hawkeyes when the defense forced the Boilermakers to settle on a 20-yard Paul Griggs field goal, cutting the deficit to 20-10 at the break.
The Boilermakers carried the momentum into the second half, forcing a pair of three-and-outs, and using a 22-yard Griggs field goal to make it a one possession game midway through the third quarter. Purdue was driving with a chance to tie the game, but back-to-back DeAngelo Yancy drops — one for a sure touchdown — gave Iowa a reprieve.
“There were a lot of critical plays left out on the field today,” said Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell. “We narrowed the margin to 20-13 and had a couple of chances down the seam, and we didn’t make them happen.
“When you’re playing a good football team you have to be right on point, and we didn’t do that.”
After being pinned deep in its own territory, Iowa put together a 91-yard scoring drive to take command. Beathard connected with Krieger Coble for 15 yards and Kittle for 14 yards on consecutive tight end screens to start the series before a pass interference penalty moved the Hawkeyes to midfield.
“The 90-yard drive into the wind was a big part of the game,” said Ferentz. “The weather was a factor today, there is no question about that. The wind is one thing that influences a game.”
Iowa converted two third downs on the series; the first was an 11-yard Beathard scramble and the second resulted in a touchdown pass to Kittle. With an all-out blitz coming, Beathard floated a touch pass to Kittle in the seam (into the wind), where he raced 35-yard for the touchdown, extending Iowa’s lead to 27-13.
The Hawkeyes pushed their lead to 33-13 with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Beathard to Krieger Coble with 8:40 remaining. Purdue scored its final touchdown with a 75-yard drive that ended with a 19-yard pass from Applesby to Shane Mikesky, cutting the deficit to 33-20.
Iowa’s defense stopped the Boilermakers on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 to force a turnover on downs before Canzeri rushed for a 42-yard touchdown on his final carry in Kinnick to cap off Iowa’s seventh home win of the season.
Appleby completed 23-of-40 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown in the loss, while Yancy had nine catches for 117 yards. Jones led the Boilermaker ground game, rushing 24 times for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Iowa closes out the season Nov. 27, facing Nebraska in the Hy-Vee Heroes Game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. Game time is 2:30 p.m. (CT).