By JAMES ALLAN
LINCOLN, Neb. — A dominating third quarter (and second half) propelled the University of Iowa football team to a 56-14 Hy-Vee Heroes Game thrashing of Nebraska on Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The Hawkeyes bombarded the Huskers with a 28-point third quarter and outscored the Huskers 42-0 over the final 30 minutes to run away with the victory. Iowa has won three straight over Nebraska and four of the last five games in the series.
Iowa finishes the regular season with a 7-5 record.
Iowa’s defense forced three second-half turnovers and limited the Huskers to 94 second-half yards. Nebraska had 267 yards in the game.
The Hawkeyes finished with 505 yards of offense — 313 on the ground and 192 through the air.
Four different Iowa running backs found the end zone. Senior Akrum Wadley rushed for 165 yards on 19 attempts and scored three times. Freshman Ivory Kelly-Martin had 90 yards and one touchdown, James Butler had 36 yards and a score, and freshman Toren Young had 21 yards and a touchdown.
Sophomore Nate Stanley completed 13-of-20 attempts for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Noah Fant made three catches for 1116 yards, including a career-long 68 yard touchdown reception that made the score 42-0.
Senior Josey Jewell and freshman Geno Stone led Iowa with eight tackles apiece. Jewell also had an interception, a tackle for loss, and three pass breakups. Stone, who replaced an injured Miles Taylor in the first half, had a career-high in tackles.
Senior Ben Niemann and sophomore Kristian Welch both had second-half interceptions.
After playing to a 14-14 tie in the first half, Iowa wasted little time taking control in the third quarter. The Hawkeyes scored three touchdowns in a 7 1/2 minute span to build a 35-14 lead.
Freshman Ihmir Smith-Marsette gave Iowa the immediate momentum, returning the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown. The score was wiped off the board, but the 74-yard return — Iowa’s season-long — gave the Hawkeyes starting field position at the Nebraska 22. Iowa took the lead on a Wadley 1-yard touchdown run, making the score 21-14.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Hawkeyes needed two plays to push its lead to two touchdowns. Stanley lofted a 44-yard completion to Noah Fant off play action to the 12 and James Butler followed with a 12-yard touchdown run — his first score as a Hawkeye — to push the lead to 28-14.
Senior Ben Niemann intercepted Lee on the second play of Nebraska’s following series before Wadley stretched the lead to 35-14 with runs of 11 and 29 yards. The 29-yard touchdown run pushed Wadley over 1,000 for the season, making him just the fourth Hawkeye to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
WHEN IT WAS OVER
Nebraska drove into Iowa territory late in the third quarter before Lee’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete for a turnover on downs. On second-and-10, Stanley connected with Fant along the Iowa sideline, and the Nebraska native out-ran the Husker defense for a 68-yard touchdown reception, extending the lead to 42-14. It was a career-long reception and Fant’s second touchdown of the game.
Wadley and Fant provided the Hawkeyes with big plays in a big second half. Wadley’s 29-yard touchdown run put him over 1,000 yards for the season and he averaged 8.4 yards per carry. The New Jersey native had a season-high 159 yards on 19 carries and scored three times.
Fant made three catches in the game, but two of the three receptions resulted in Hawkeye scores. The Omaha, Nebraska native had a career-high 116 receiving yards, including the career-long 68-yard reception in Iowa’s 28 point third quarter.
Two Iowa freshmen were called into duty in the Hawkeye secondary. Freshman Matt Hankins made his first career start opposite Josh Jackson, finishing with five tackles (two solo) and one pass break-up. Safety Geno Stone tied for the team lead in tackles with eight after replacing senior Miles Taylor in the first half. Two of Hankins tackles were solo.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Huskers struck first, taking advantage of a Hawkeye miscue in the opening quarter. On Iowa’s first offensive series, punter Colten Rastetter mishandled the snap on fourth-and-2, giving Nebraska possession at the Iowa 15. On third-and-9, Husker receiver Stanley Morgan, Jr., made a one-handed grab in the middle of the end zone on a pass from Tanner Lee to give Nebraska a 7-0 lead.
- Iowa’s second possession got off to a tough start when Smith-Marsette fielded the kickoff and stepped out of bounds at the 1. The Hawkeyes responded with their longest scoring drive of the season, going 99 yards over 15 plays and using 7:18. The Hawkeyes converted a fourth-and-1 on a Stanley quarterback sneak to move into Husker territory and Wadley’s 20-yard touchdown run on third-and-8 tied the game at seven.
- Nebraska drove 51 yards deep into Iowa territory on its next drive before senior Nathan Bazata blew up a fake field goal to give Iowa possession on its own 24. After forcing a quick punt, the Huskers took the lead on an eight-play, 75-yard drive. Morgan caught his second touchdown pass — a 28-yarder — finding a spot in between Josh Jackson and Jake Gervase to give Nebraska a 14-7 lead with 6:18 left in the opening half.
- The Hawkeyes used a 75-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 14 at the break. Nebraska initially forced an Iowa punt, but Tony Butler’s running into the kicker penalty gave Iowa a first down and it capitalized. Wadley ran for 29 yards on the next play and the drive ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Stanley to Fant on third-and-goal. It was Fant’s ninth touchdown catch of the season.
- Leading 42-14 through three quarters, Iowa kept its foot on the gas in the fourth. Following a Jewell interception, the Hawkeyes rushed seven times for 39 yards for their seventh score. Toren Young scored from 3-yards out to make the score 49-14.
- Junior Tyler Wiegers led the Hawkeyes on their final scoring drive — a three-play, 65-yard drive. Ivory Kelly-Martin had a 57-yard rush to the 8 before scoring two plays later on a 5-yard touchdown run.
- Junior Josh Jackson finished the regular season with seven interceptions and 25 passes defended. He finished tied for fourth all-time with seven interceptions. Desmond King (2015), Lou King (1981), and Nile Kinnick (1939).
- Sophomore Nate Stanley’s two touchdown passes against Nebraska ties him for third all-time in single-season passing touchdowns with James Vendenberg and Ricky Stanzi. He trails only Brad Banks (26) and Chuck Long (27) in program history.
- Senior Josey Jewell had 8 tackles today, snapping his 21 game streak with double-digit tackles.
- Jewell has 426 career tackles, for fifth all-time in program history behind Brad Quast (435), Abdul Hodge (453), Andre Jackson (465), and Larry Station (492).
- Jewell intercepted his second pass of the season and sixth of his career in the fourth quarter.
- Senior WR Matt VandeBerg has a reception in 31 consecutive games played.
- VandeBerg has 133 career receptions, 10th most in program history.
- He has 1,677 career receiving yards, 16th in program history.
- Akrum Wadley is one of 15 players in program history to rush for 2,000 career yards. He has 514 career carries for 2,784 rushing yards, fourth all-time, passing Fred Russell.
- Wadley has 27 career rushing touchdowns, fourth all-time, 34 career touchdowns, third all-time, and 204 career points, 10th all-time.
- Wadley has 3,621 career all-purpose yards, ninth most in program history (2,784 rush, 737 receiving, 100 KO returns).
- Wadley reached 1,000 rushing yards in the third quarter against Nebraska. He is the fourth Hawkeye to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He is the first since Fred Russell did it in 2002 (1,355) and 2003 (1,264).
- Wadley is only the third opposing player in the last 20 years with 150+ rush yards and 3+ rush TD in Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium.
- Second-year tight ends Noah Fant (So.) and T.J. Hockenson (redshirt freshman) have combined for 51 receptions this season. Among those 51 receptions, all but seven have resulted in a touchdown (13) or first down (31).
- Fant has 28 receptions, including a team-high 10 touchdowns. The 10 touchdowns are a single-season record for an Iowa tight end. He has 15 more catches that resulted in a first down. Fant’s 10 touchdowns are the most by a Hawkeye since Marvin McNutt caught 12 touchdown passes in 2012.
- Iowa’s 56 points are the most scored by Iowa in the series history and the 42-point margin is the largest margin of victory by Iowa in the series history.
- Iowa’s 56 points are the most scored in a game this season and most since the team posted 62 in a win over North Texas on 9/26/15.
- Iowa scores 50+ points in multiple Big Ten games in the same season for the first time since 1990.
- Head coach Kirk Ferentz recorded his 142nd win at Iowa, becoming one win shy of tying Hayden Fry as the Hawkeyes’ all-time winningest football coach.
- Iowa finished the season winning three of four trophy games. Iowa has won the last three Heroes Trophy games and is 10-2 since the start of the 2015 season in trophy games. Iowa took the lead in the Heroes Trophy series at 4-3.
- Iowa scored on four straight drives for the first time this season.
- 69 degrees at the time of kickoff was the warmest temperature for an Iowa regular season finale played outdoors since 1981, when Iowa hosted Michigan State in Kinnick Stadium. The temperature in that game was officially listed in the mid-60s.
The Hawkeyes finish the regular season with a 7-5 record. Iowa will learn its bowl destination Dec. 3.