By JAMES ALLAN
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The University of Iowa piled up a season-high 520 yards of total offense in a 49-35 victory over Purdue on Saturday afternoon at Ross-Ade Stadium. The 49 points are Iowa’s most in a Big Ten Conference game since 2008..
The Hawkeyes rushed for 365 yards — tying for the most in a Big Ten game (and the second-most all-time) under UI head coach Kirk Ferentz — to roll to their school-record ninth straight road victory. Iowa is 5-2 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten Conference action.
“I am happy, the whole team came ready to play right from the start,” said Ferentz. “We had a good week of preparation. The guys handled the trip well and when kickoff came they were ready to go. We got off to a fast start, it was efficient and business-like.
“The guys played hard.”
Iowa’s rushing attack churned out two 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since 2008 (Jewell Hampton and Shonn Greene vs. Indiana). Junior Akrum Wadley ran for 170 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown and senior LeShun Daniels, Jr., had 156 yards on 24 attempts and two scores.
“To expect (two 100-yard rushers) is unrealistic but when it happens you’re happy,” said Ferentz. “Both those guys did a good job and what that indicates is there are a lot of other guys working hard. Jay Scheel comes to mind on the long touchdown right before the half; he had a key block coming in from the outside.
“The backs will be the first to tell you, it’s not just the lineman or fullbacks, but other people have to help out for the long runs.”
Senior C.J. Beathard completed 10-of-17 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Four of his completions went to senior Riley McCarron, who had a team-best 74 receiving yards with a touchdown.
The Hawkeyes had a 36:06-23:54 advantage in time of possession and finished the game 9-of-16 on third downs.
Iowa’s defense surrendered just 144 yards in a dominating first half. Purdue finished with 504 yards for the game, including 458 passing yards. Quarterback David Blough was 30-of-60 for 458 yards and had five touchdown passes — four coming in the second half.
The Hawkeyes limited the Boilermakers to 46 rushing yards — a season-low by the Iowa defense — on 22 attempts. Junior Bo Bower had a team-high 10 tackles, including seven solo stops and senior Desmond King had his first interception of the season — a fourth-quarter pick-six — that sealed the Iowa victory.
“That was bit more like it the last two weeks,” said Ferentz of stopping the run. “If we can build off it and stop the run, it’s going to help us.”
Iowa came out of the gates quickly, jumping out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead, and it had a 35-7 advantage at the half. The Hawkeyes had 397 yards of total offense in the first half, including 269 rushing yards.
Daniels, Jr., rushed for 28 yards on Iowa’s first offensive play of the game and Beathard connected on a 22-yard completion to George Kittle to the 1. Daniels, Jr., scored from 1-yard out two plays later to give the Hawkeyes a 7-0 lead.
After Iowa’s defense forced a three-and-out, the Hawkeyes marched down the field on a 13-play drive for their second touchdown of the day. Nine of the 13 plays came on the ground, which included a 15-yard Beathard scramble for a score on third down. It was Iowa’s second touchdown run on the drive, as a Daniels, Jr., 1-yard score was called back because of a chop block penalty.
The Hawkeyes went to the air for their third score, pushing the lead to 21-0 with nine seconds left in the opening quarter. Beathard misfired on a sure touchdown to Jerminic Smith on the drive’s first play, but he redeemed himself. On first-and-10 from the 42, Beathard hit McCarron in stride for a 42-yard touchdown strike. It was the longest reception of McCarron’s career.
Iowa ran its way to a 28-0 advantage late in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes covered 80 yards on just six plays — all coming on the ground. Smith opened the drive with a 45-yard run on a reverse to the Purdue 35 and five plays later, Daniels, Jr., scored untouched from 4-yards out for his second touchdown of the game.
Purdue’s offense got off the snide with a five-play, 74-yard scoring drive. Quarterback David Blough connected with DeAngelo Yancey for 38 yards to its own 26 on first down and the signal caller bought time before hitting Brycen Hopkins for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 1:29 left in the half.
Iowa followed by scoring its fifth touchdown in an 11-second span. On the first play from scrimmage following a touchback, Wadley took a handoff on a draw play out of a shotgun formation and took it 75-yards for a score. It was Iowa’s longest play from scrimmage this season.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter. Purdue struck first when Cole Herdman caught a 53-yard touchdown pass from Blough, making the score 35-14 with 8:06 remaining in the quarter. Iowa followed with a 91-yard touchdown drive, where it needed just five plays.
After a pooch kick gave Iowa its worst starting field position of the day at its own 9, Daniels, Jr., rumbled off a 67-yard gain to the Purdue 24 on the series’ first play. Four plays later, Beathard connected with freshman Noah Fant for a 5-yard touchdown pass, making the score 42-14. The play, which was initially ruled out-of-bounds, was overturned by instant replay, giving Fant his first career touchdown.
Iowa pulled its starters in the fourth quarter, and Purdue feasted. Blough through a 7-yard touchdown pass to Bilal Marshall to make the score 42-21 with 8:40 remaining and he connected with Yancy for a 54-yard touchdown to make it a two possession game (42-28) with 5:36 left.
“I don’t think (the second-team unit) was that far away, but it was a great illustration for them what the difference is,” said Ferentz. “You can’t duplicate that in practice and there is nothing about being out there in live game action.
“The ones did a good job today, but the twos got in there and they were struggling a little bit. We didn’t want to bring the ones back in, but at that point it was a little dicey. Then Desmond comes up with a huge play.”
The Hawkeyes went back to their starters and the game’s only turnover sealed the Iowa victory. On first-and-10 from the Purdue 26, Blough threw into double coverage, where King made a leaping interception — his first of the year — and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. It was King’s third career pick six — one that gave Iowa a 49-28 lead with 1:44 remaining.
Purdue’s passing game went back on the attack with Blough leading the Boilermakers on a 75-yard touchdown drive, one that ended with a 37-yard circus catch by Hopkins. Blough’s attempt was tipped by Iowa’s Michael Ojemudia, but Hopkins reached back and tipped the ball to himself before running for his second score to make the score 48-35.
Iowa returns to action Oct. 22, hosting Wisconsin at 11 a.m. (CT) inside Kinnick Stadium in a battle for the Heartland Trophy. Tickets are on sale through the Iowa Athletics Ticket Office via hawkeyesports.com or by calling 800-IA-HAWKS.