By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — No. 10 Wisconsin finished with 423 yards of total offense and kept the University of Iowa football team out of the end zone for the first time since the 2013 season in a 17-9 victory Saturday afternoon inside a sold-out Kinnick Stadium.
The win gives the Badgers possession of the Heartland Trophy and it snaps Iowa’s six-game winning streak in trophy games. Iowa falls to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten action.
“This was a hard-fought, tough, physical football game,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. “All in all I think our effort and toughness was good, but we have to develop a knack of becoming more opportunistic, work on the fine lines.
“Some plays we left out there today and we didn’t help our cause or the momentum in the game. From that standpoint, some of those plays are disappointing.”
Wisconsin had a 14-minute advantage in time of possession (37:02-22:58) and finished the contest with 167 rushing yards and 256 yards through the air. The Badgers had 20 first downs and finished 8-of-17 on third downs.
Iowa had 236 yards of total offense with 83 coming on the ground. Junior Akrum Wadley had 10 carries for 44 yards, while senior LeShun Daniels, Jr., had 35 yards on 10 attempts. Senior C.J. Beathard completed 17-of-33 attempts for 153 yards, but two touchdown passes were wiped off the board.
Wadley also had a career-high seven receptions for 77 yards on the afternoon.
“They made it hard for us to run the football, we anticipated that,” said Ferentz. “We had a couple of opportunities in the passing game where we just couldn’t quite make the play.”
Trailing 7-0 late in the first half, Iowa started a drive at the Badger 44 when Beathard connected with Riley McCarron for 11 yards on a swing pass to the 28. The Hawkeyes then got into the red zone on consecutive rushes, setting up a third-and-1 from the 19.
After a false start pushed Iowa back to the 24, Beathard hit McCarron on a quick slant for a touchdown, but the play was whistled dead when a timeout was called from the sidelines with the clock winding down. Iowa settled on a 41-yard field goal from Keith Duncan, making the score 7-3 with 3:49 left in first half.
The second non-score came late in the fourth quarter with Iowa trailing 17-6. Beathard hooked up with freshman Noah Fant for a 7-yard touchdown, but the call was overturned on the field by instant replay. Duncan kicked a 25-yard field goal to make it a one possession game with 43 seconds remaining.
Wisconsin’s lead was just 7-6 at the half despite out-gaining Iowa, 246-137. The Badgers moved the ball into the red zone three times in the first 30 minutes, but only had a seven points to show for it.
The Badgers drove 54 yards over 10 plays on their first drive to the 14 with the big play coming from A.J. Taylor, who gained 23 yards on a reverse into Iowa territory. Wisconsin’s drive stalled at the 14, but the Badgers came away empty when Andrew Endicott missed a 32-yard field goal.
Wisconsin broke onto the scoreboard on its first drive of the second quarter with reserve quarterback Bart Houston under center. Houston opened and closed the drives with completions on the 58-yard drive, including a 17-yard strike to tight end Troy Fumagalli, giving Wisconsin a 7-0 lead at the 10:06 mark.
After Duncan’s field goal made the score 7-3 with 3:49 left in the opening half, Wisconsin was driving for a second touchdown, but Iowa kept them out of the end zone with the game’s only turnover.
The big play came when Badger quarterback Alex Hornibrook hit tight end Kyle Penniston for a 54-yard gain to the 5 on the series’ third play, but Iowa followed with a goal-line stand.
On the third of three straight rushes, Corey Clement extended the ball for the end zone on third down where Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell knocked the ball loose and senior Desmond King pounced on it in the end zone for a touchback to keep the score 7-3.
Iowa followed with a 51-yard drive in its two-minute offense to make the score 7-6 heading into the locker room. Beathard completed a 7-yard pass to McCarron on third-and-4 and found Wadley for 11 yards to the 29 to set up a field goal attempt. Sophomore Miguel Recinos’ hit from 47-yards out for his first career field goal to cut the deficit to a single point at the break.
Wisconsin’s only touchdown of the second half came midway through the third quarter and was set up by a big play. On first-and-10 from its own 38, Hornibrook hit Quintez Cephus for a 57-yard gain to the 5. Three plays later, Clement scored from 1-yard out, stretching the Badger lead to 14-6 with 7:20 to play.
Iowa and Wisconsin both left points on the field late in the third and early in the fourth quarter. Endicott missed from 52-yards out at the 3:04 mark of the third quarter, and Iowa’s Duncan couldn’t capitalize on the Hawkeyes’ best drive of the second half.
After taking over at its own 20 with 9:31 remaining, Beathard led Iowa on an 11-play, 60-yard drive to the Badger 20. The Hawkeyes ended up not having anything to show for it when Duncan missed from 38-yards out, giving Wisconsin possession with 5:25 to play.
“In the situation we were in, we felt that was the best play,” said Ferentz of kicking the field goal with 5:25 to play. “Fourth-and-5 against these guys is not easy, especially down there in the red zone. We didn’t see that as a high-probability play.”
The Badgers stretched their lead to 17-6 with a 62-yard drive with all the yards coming on the ground. Clement broke free for 34 yards on third-and-1 from the Iowa 37 and Bradwick Shaw’s 8-yard rush gave Wisconsin a first down at the 25. Endicott extended the lead to 11 points when he hit from 36-yards out with 1:24 remaining.
King gave Iowa some life with a 77-yard kick return — a career-long — on the ensuing kickoff to give Iowa the ball on the Wisconsin 23. Beathard hit Wadley for 21-yards to the 7 before four passing attempts went incomplete, including the almost touchdown to Fant that was overturned.
Duncan’s second field goal — a 25-yarder — cut the lead to 17-9 with 43 seconds remaining, but Ron Coluzzi’s on-side kick attempt bounced out-of-bounds, essentially sealing the Wisconsin victory.
Hornibrook completed 11-of-19 attempts for 197 yards in the game, while Houston was 4-of-6 for 59 yards and a touchdown. Clement ran for 134 yards on 35 attempts with a touchdown.
Jewell had a game-high and tied a career-high with 16 tackles, including six solo stops and a forced fumble, while King matched a career-high with 12 total tackles and seven solo stops. Senior Jaleel Jonson made four tackles and had two sacks, coming on back-to-back snaps to close out the third quarter.
Iowa has a bye week Oct. 29 before returning to action Nov. 5 in Happy Valley against Penn State.