By JAMES ALLAN
EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern handed the University of Iowa football team a 17-10 overtime defeat Saturday afternoon at Ryan Field. The loss drops the Hawkeyes’ record to 4-3 overall and 1-3 in Big Ten play.
After battling to a 10-all tie in regulation, Iowa won the toss and elected to defend to start overtime. The Hawkeyes bottled the Wildcats up on first and second down before Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson connected with running back Justin Jackson underneath on third-and-9.
Jackson did the rest, breaking three Hawkeye tackles on a 23-yard reception to the 1. Two plays later, Jackson pushed Thorson into the end zone on a quarterback sneak to give Northwestern a 17-10 lead.
Iowa couldn’t pick up a first down on its overtime offensive possession. Senior Akrum Wadley ran for three yards on first down and four on third down with an incompletion sandwiched in between. On fourth down, Iowa had the correct play dialed up, but a dropped pass on a sure-fire first down ended the game.
Northwestern finished with a 339-312 advantage in total offense, passing for 192 yards and rushing for 147 more. Iowa’s offense had 223 yards passing and was limited to 89 rushing yards. The Wildcats forced the game’s lone turnover in the second half — a Stanley interception — but it wasn’t costly.
Stanley finished 19-of-33 for 223 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Junior Nick Easley made four catches for 45 yards, while senior Matt VandeBerg had three catches for a season-high 90 yards. Sophomore Noah Fant had three catches for 31 yards, including a 7-yard second-quarter touchdown reception.
Wadley paced Iowa’s rushing attack, finishing with 90 yards on 26 carries.
Iowa trailed 10-7 when it took over at its own 34-yard line with 5:30 remaining. The Hawkeyes drove 39 yards over 11 plays — surpassing the yardage from their first four second-half possessions — to tie the game. Stanley converted two third downs on the drive, firing to T.J. Hockenson for 9 yards on third-and-8 and Fant for seven yards on third-and-3.
Wadley was stopped for no gain on third-and-1 from the Northwestern 26, forcing the Hawkeyes into a decision. Iowa lined up to go for it and the win, but a false start penalty forced the Hawkeyes to settle on Miguel Recinos’ career-long 48-yard field goal to tie the game at 10.
On fourth-and-inches and trailing 10-7 with 1:35 remaining from Northwestern 26, Iowa lined up to go for the victory. Iowa was in a jumbo formation, but the play didn’t happen as the right side of the Hawkeye line was flagged for a false start. Junior Miguel Recinos tied the game with a 48-yard field goal, but it was a “what if.”
WHEN IT WAS OVER
After Northwestern scored on its first possession in overtime, the Hawkeyes were driving, trying to extend the contest. On fourth-and-3, the play Iowa drew up worked to perfection with sophomore tight end Noah Fant running a stick route. Nate Stanley’s pass was on the numbers, but a Fant drop ended the game.
“We had a chance (on the fourth down), but we weren’t good enough to finish it,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. “That’s where we are at right now. It’s illustrative of too many missed opportunities. We have lost three one possession games now; to win close games, you have to take care of those things.”
Iowa played without senior linebacker Josey Jewell and free safety Brandon Snyder against Northwestern because of injury. In Jewell’s absence, seniors Bo Bower and Ben Niemann stepped up. Bower finished with a game-high 12 tackles, including eight solo stops, while Niemann had 11 tackles (seven solo) and a pass breakup. Niemann started at Jewell’s middle linebacker position.
QUOTING COACH FERENTZ
“We didn’t execute (in the second half) and play as well (as Northwestern) and the momentum swung a little bit. They did a better job with their production. The play that hurt us was that quarterback scramble; it looked like it was third-and-50. Whatever it was, he took it and got a big first down. That seemed to impact us a little bit.”
“Niemann slid in and did a great job (for Jewell) and Kevin Ward took Ben’s place. Both of them made a good effort out there. (Injuries) are part of football and guys have to step up. We’re lucky to have three good linebackers in addition to Josey. Those guys did a lot of positive things.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Iowa ran 26 plays in the first quarter for 126 total yards, but came away empty handed. The Hawkeyes went 47 yards on 11 plays on their game-opening drive before turning it over on downs at the Wildcat 46. On its second drive, Iowa covered 71 yards over 12 plays, but Miguel Recinos’ field goal attempt hooked wide left.
- The Hawkeyes’ best drives came on their final possessions of each half. Iowa went 77 yards on just four plays to take a 7-0 lead into halftime. Stanley hit VandeBerg for 61 yards to open the drive and connected with Fant for a 7-yard touchdown reception three plays later.
- Northwestern tied the game at seven on a 12-play, 66-yard touchdown drive on its second possession of the second half. Quarterback Clayton Thorson scrambled for 21 yards on third-and-15 and Jeremy Larkin scored on a 4-yard touchdown run.
- The Wildcats took the lead on a Colton Kuhbander field goal with 8:07 remaining. It capped off a 13-play, 57-yard scoring drive that began at the NU 30.
- Running back Akrum Wadley’s 22-yard rush in the first quarter moved him past Ronnie Harmon and into ninth place on Iowa’s all-time rushing list. Wadley has 429 career carries for 2,336 yards. Wadley rushed 26 times for 90 yards today. In four career games against Northwestern, Wadley has 81 rushes for 435 yards and seven touchdowns.
- Wide receiver Matt VandeBerg had three receptions for 90 yards. His 61-yard reception in the second quarter was a career long. He has at least one reception in 26 consecutive games played. He has 124 career receptions, 11th all-time, and 1,578 receiving yards, 18th all-time.
- Placekicker Miguel Recinos kicked a career-long 48-yard field goal to tie the game, 10-10, in the fourth quarter. Recinos is 4-for-4 from 40-plus yards this season.
- Punter Ryan Gersonde punted a career-high five times. He had a career long 61-yard punt and averaged 52.6 yards per punt. Four punts were 50-plus yards, and one was downed inside the 20-yard line.
- Iowa is 7-5 all-time in overtime games. That includes a 5-3 mark in road games, and a 3-4 record in single overtime. Iowa is 1-1 in overtime games this season (W, 44-41 at Iowa State). Iowa has played two overtime games in the same season for the first time.
- Iowa and Northwestern traded field goals in the fourth quarter. It was the first time this season Iowa did not outscore its opponent in the fourth quarter. Iowa has outscored its opponents 73-23 in the fourth quarter this season.
The Hawkeyes host Minnesota on Saturday, Oct. 28. Kickoff is at 5:30 p.m. (CT) at Kinnick Stadium.