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By RICK BROWN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Nate Stanley’s pass seemed to hang in the Kinnick Stadium air forever.
“I think we got a call from the FAA on that one,” University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz said Saturday night following a 17-10 victory over Minnesota. “We didn’t get clearance.”
Stanley’s lofted aerial came down in the hands of sophomore tight end Noah Fant, who completed the 45-yard scoring play on the Hawkeyes’ first series of the second half .
It was an important play in a much-needed victory over the Hawkeyes’ age-old rival. And it kept Floyd of Rosedale around for another year. It also left Fant in better spirits than a week ago, when he dropped a pass in overtime at Northwestern that ended the game.
“My main focus was coming back to practice and working as hard as I could,” Fant said. “The Northwestern game came down on me, and I need to come down with that ball. This is a much better feeling.”
Fant couldn’t wait for another chance to get back on the field and erase the memory of that loss in Evanston.
“I was itching to get on the field that following Sunday,” Fant said. “Ending a game like that is not ideal.”
Fant’s fifth touchdown catch of the season, and the longest scoring reception of his career, doubled Iowa’s 7-0 halftime lead. Fant ran a long pattern across the field, from right to left, and broke past Minnesota defender Justus Harris.
“It was wild,” Fant said. “At first I didn’t think the ball was coming. And then out of nowhere, I saw it floating way high up in the air. It was crazy how he got that height on the ball and it landed in the exact place it needed to be.”
Stanley, in his first season as the Hawkeyes’ starting quarterback, has overthrown some open receivers this season. He made sure that didn’t happen with that pass to Fant.
“Noah’s pretty fast,” Stanley said. “I just tried to give myself a little more leeway on a throw like that, especially when he’s wide open like he was. I gave myself a little more room for error; especially with the struggles we’ve had earlier in the year.”
It was a big catch for Fant and a big win for the Hawkeyes.
“It’s a big game for us, it’s s big game for them,” Fant said. “There are a lot of emotions in this game.”