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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Don’t worry Floyd, the Stew and LeNore Football Performance Center is your home for another year.
The University of Iowa football team hoisted Floyd of Rosedale for a third straight year with a 17-10 victory over Minnesota on Saturday night inside Kinnick Stadium. The win moves Iowa’s record to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play.
The Hawkeyes used touchdown drives on their opening possessions of both halves and got a fourth-quarter field goal from Miguel Recinos and it was enough.
Iowa outgained Minnesota, 315-281, but it was in control throughout. Sophomore Nate Stanley completed 15-of-27 passes for 190 yards with one touchdown, while seniors Akrum Wadley (70 yards) and James Butler (28) combined to rush for 98 yards and one touchdown. Iowa had 125 rushing yards on 33 attempts.
Stanley completed passes to eight different receivers. Junior Nick Easley made five receptions for 49 yards, while sophomore Noah Fant had three catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Iowa’s defense forced nine Minnesota punts, had a turnover via a Jake Gervase interception, and forced the Gophers into two turnovers on downs. Minnesota quarterback Demry Croft had just nine completions (9-of-29) for 139 yards.
After taking a 7-0 lead into the half, Iowa’s offense provided some breathing room with a five-play, 67-yard drive on its first possession of the second half. The Hawkeyes converted a key third-and-10 when Stanley connected with Matt VandeBerg for an 11-yard gain to the Iowa 44 before Wadley followed with an 11-yard burst to the Gopher 45.
The Hawkeyes then hit the deep ball via play action when Stanley threw a perfect over-shoulder-strike to sophomore Noah Fant for a 45-yard touchdown reception, giving the Hawkeyes a 14-0 lead. It was Fant’s longest career reception and his team-leading fifth touchdown catch of the season.
WHEN IT WAS OVER
Minnesota had a chance, taking over at its own 20 with 1:21 remaining. With Iowa leading 17-10, the Hawkeye defense stood tall, forcing its fifth three-and-out of the game to seal the victory. On fourth-and-4, sophomore Anthony Nelson put an exclamation point on the win, sacking Demry Croft for a 2-yard loss to thwart off any Gopher hope.
Senior Josey Jewell returned after missing the Northwestern game because of injury to lead the Hawkeyes with 11 tackles, including six solo stops. It was Iowa’s defense that stepped up limiting the Gophers to a season low in points.
The unit allowed 281 yards, but it made the Gophers work for every inch. Minnesota didn’t score until the fourth quarter and Iowa’s rushing defense limited Minnesota to 3.3 yards per carry (142) on 43 attempts. Minus the 63-yard pass in the fourth quarter, the Hawkeye defense allowed only 75 yards in the second half.
Iowa finished with four sacks, seven tackles for loss, and seven breakups. Junior Josh Jackson had a career-high four pass breakups, including one in the first half that led to Minnesota’s lone turnover — an interception on the goal line.
QUOTING COACH FERENTZ
“We’re thrilled to get the victory tonight in a rivalry game. Any time you play in this series, it tends to be a tough, hard-fought, competitive game. This one was no different. It was outstanding for our guys to be able to bring the trophy back into the locker room, hoist it, for our seniors to enjoy that. It’s nice to know we’ll have possession of it for another year.
“Minnesota, hats off to them. They played hard, competitively, and made it tough on us. Then right along with that, there a lot of things we still need to clean up and move past if we’re going to be able to have success down the road. We had too many plays that made it tough for us during the course of the game. It certainly increased the degree of difficulty.
“But all that said, I am proud of the way our players hung in there. They fought until the end. That’s exactly what it took. It was a good drive at the end to get the field goal, third-down conversion, then the defense coming up big on that last series, last possession, pushing them out on downs. That was certainly good to see, as well.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Hawkeyes made it look easy on their game-opening drive, needing just five plays for an 80-yard scoring drive. It was Iowa’s first scoring drive on its opening possession this season. Stanley connected with T.J. Hockenson for 22 yards on the first play and Nick Easley for 25 more on the next snap to move into Minnesota territory. Iowa grabbed a 7-0 lead on a 12-yard touchdown run from Wadley.
- Minnesota drove deep into Iowa territory on consecutive first-quarter possessions. Its first drive ended with a turnover on downs on the Iowa 7 after Croft overshot tight end Nate Wozniak on fourth-and-1.
- Iowa went for pay dirt on the first play, but Stanley’s attempt caromed off Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s helmet and it was intercepted by Jacob Huff at the Iowa 48. The Gophers drove to the 14 before Jake Gervase picked off Demry off a Josh Jackson breakup at the goal line.
- Minnesota’s only touchdown drive came on a possession that started at the Iowa 45 that spanned the third and fourth quarters. Croft’s connected with Kobe McCrary for 13 yards to the 15 and he found a diving Nate Wozniak for 10 yards to the 4. Two rushes later, McCrary flipped into the end zone to make the score 14-7.
- Iowa’s final scoring drive came midway through the fourth quarter and it milked away nearly five minutes off the clock. Butler, who was playing for the first time since Week 3, was a workhorse, carrying six times for 23 yards. Junior Miguel Recinos made it a two possession game when he hit from 32 yards out, making the score 17-7.
- The Gophers made things interesting when Croft hit Tyler Johnson for a 63-yard gain to the Iowa 15 on the first play of the ensuing possession. Iowa’s defense held and Minnesota took the points, getting a 33-yard field goal from Emmit Carpenter to make the score 17-10.
- Linebacker Josey Jewell returned to the starting lineup after missing last week due to injury. Jewell led the team with 11 tackles. He has 18 career games with double-digit tackles. Jewell has 382 career tackles, and tonight he passed Fred Bar for No. 7 all-time in program history.
- Free safety Jake Gervase made his fifth start of the season, recorded a career-high eight tackles, and recorded his first career interception.
- Since 2014, Iowa is 13-10 in games decided by one possession. The Hawkeyes are 2-3 in one possession games this season.
The Hawkeyes host Ohio State on Saturday in Kinnick Stadium. The game will begin at 2:30 p.m. (CT).