By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Senior quarterback C.J. Beathard accounted for four touchdowns to lead the 10th-ranked University of Iowa football team to a 42-3 Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series rout of Iowa State in front of a sold-out crowd Saturday night in Kinnick Stadium.
The Hawkeyes’ 39-point margin of victory is the largest in the series since 1997 during a 63-20 win in Ames. Iowa is 2-0 this season and it has won 14 consecutive regular season games dating back to the 2015 season.
“The guys had a good week,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. ” They focused on the right things during the course of the week, so I am proud of the way the guys prepared this week, and tonight they showed up and competed. That was great to see. The thing I’m most pleased about is we played good team football. It was complementary team football, and that gives you a chance any time you do that.”
The Hawkeyes controlled the game from the get-go, scoring on four of their five first-half possessions. Iowa had a 132-8 advantage in total offense through the game’s first four possessions and led 14-0 with nearly six minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Iowa churned out 435 yards of total offense for the game, using a balanced attack with 198 yards rushing and 237 yards coming through the air. The Hawkeyes had 25 first downs and possessed the ball for more than 32 minutes.
Iowa had a 200-yard passer, 100-yard rusher, and a 100-yard receiver in the game.
Beathard completed 19-of-28 attempts for 235 yards and three touchdowns (he also had a rushing touchdown), senior LeShun Daniels, Jr., had 112 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown, and Matt VandeBerg had himself a game, finishing with seven catches for a career-high 129 yards with one touchdown, while also enjoying a life-defining moment during the team’s celebration.
VandeBerg proposed to his girlfriend, Laura Bulanda. She said yes.
After giving up more than 400 yards in the season-opener, the Iowa defense stymied the Cyclones’ offense. Iowa surrendered 291 yards for the game with more than half (175) of Iowa’s State’s yards coming in the second half when the outcome wasn’t in question.
Junior Josey Jewell had a team-high nine tackles, including five solo stops, a tackle for loss, and a quarterback hurry. The Hawkeyes had three sacks, five tackles for loss, and forced the game’s only turnover via a Ben Niemann third-quarter interception.
Iowa broke onto the scoreboard on its second series on a seven-play, 42-yard scoring drive. The big play came on second-and-9 from the Iowa State 30 when Beathard connected with VandeBerg off play-action for a 25-yard gain to the 5. Senior George Kittle’s first catch of the season — a 9-yard touchdown pass on third and goal — gave the Hawkeyes a 7-0 advantage.
After Iowa’s defense forced its second straight three-and-out, the Hawkeyes wasted little time extending their lead to 14-0. A four-play, 66-yard scoring drive ended with a 26-yard touchdown pass when Beathard found junior Akrum Wadley wide open in the back of the end zone. It was Wadley’s second career receiving touchdown.
Iowa State’s lone points came on the ensuing possession, courtesy of an 11-play, 63-yard scoring drive. Lanning connected with Allen Lazard for a 30-yard gain before Jewell made a touchdown-saving tackle at the 7. Sacks by Jaleel Johnson and Anthony Nelson forced Iowa State to settle on Cole Netten’s 31-yard field goal.
VandeBerg opened and closed Iowa’s third scoring drive with big plays, one that extended the Hawkeye lead to 21-3 with 10:15 left in the second quarter. The wide receiver gained 25 yards on a reverse on the drive’s first play and he scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass on an NFL-esque throw from Beathard.
The Hawkeyes’ longest drive of the night — one that covered 86 yards — extended the lead to 28-3 late in the second quarter. VandeBerg opened the series with a 31-yard catch before Iowa pounded its way to the end zone. The score was extended to 28-3 when Beathard scored his first rushing touchdown of the season from 1-yard out with 2:17 left in the first half.
“To put 28 points up in the first half is big in any game especially when the defense is shutting them down like that,” said Beathard. “The defense did a great job tonight and we didn’t let up offensively. We put together a few good scoring drives in the second half; we did what we needed to do.”
Iowa put an exclamation point on its second straight Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series victory with two third quarter scores.
“(Coming out of halftime) the big thing was to encourage our guys, ‘Let’s keep our foot on the gas and keep looking at the road. Don’t get distracted,'” said Ferentz. “All those wise words and we came out and sputtered in the second half. We didn’t do much offensively the first couple series, but then we regrouped a little bit and did some good things.
“That’s when Niemann got the pick. We did a nice job converting off that. We got field position and got points.”
The Hawkeyes covered 66 yards over six plays with 48 yards coming on three successive plays — 25 and 15 yard passes to VandeBerg and an 18-yard run by Wadley — to the Cyclone 3. Wadley’s 3-yard touchdown run made the score 35-3 with 3:18 left in the third quarter.
After Niemann’s intercepted Lanning on the ensuing Cyclone possession, Daniels, Jr., showed a burst to account for Iowa’s sixth and final touchdown. On the second play, the senior took a handoff and bounced it outside before going untouched for a 43-yard touchdown run.
Iowa returns to action Sept. 17, hosting North Dakota State at 11 a.m. (CT). The game will be televised on ESPN2.