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By JAMES ALLAN
BRONX, N.Y. — The University of Iowa football team owned the second half to become the 2017 New Era Pinstripe Bowl champions.
The Hawkeyes earned their eighth victory of the season and ended a five bowl-losing streak that dated back to 2010 with a 27-20 victory over Boston College on Wednesday night on the slippery turf inside Yankee Stadium.
After surrendering 281 yards in the first half, the Hawkeye defense clamped down. Iowa’s defense gave up 102 second-half yards, including just 21 on the ground to rally from a 17-10 deficit. Iowa outscored Boston College, 17-3, over the final 30 minutes.
“There was nothing easy tonight,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. “Our team showed some grit and toughness; the conditions were tough, Boston College made it tough on us. For our guys to regroup and dig in during that second half, I am proud of their effort.
“We played a lot tougher in that second half. We made up our minds that we were going to get this done. It was kind of reflective of the season.”
Boston College outgained Iowa, 383-200, for the game. Iowa finished with 99 rush and 101 passing yards. Sophomore Nate Stanley finished 8-of-15 for 99 yards and a touchdown, while senior Akrum Wadley had 88 yards on 22 attempts.
Sophomore Amani Hooker led the Iowa defense with 12 tackles (eight solo), while senior Josey Jewell had 11 stops. Iowa had two sacks and forced three Eagle turnovers.
Boston College’s A.J. Dillon had 126 rushing yards in the first half; Iowa limited him to 31 yards in the second half.
FERENTZ TIES HAYDEN; WILL MAKE RETURN TRIP TO YANKEE STADIUM
Head coach Kirk Ferentz (143-97) recorded his 143rd win at Iowa, tying Hayden Fry (143-89-6) as the Hawkeyes’ all-time winningest football coach. The 143 wins rank fifth in overall coaching wins in the Big Ten Conference.
“It’s a special day,” said Ferentz. “In 1981, I was so clueless. I knew Iowa wasn’t very good, I looked in the Blue Book. I had no idea what we were walking into nor did Mary (Ferentz). The next nine years ended up being special years in our lives. You think about the players and coaches you get to work with and coming back here 19 years ago, it’s the same thing.
“It’s all about the people. I have been amazed from Ed’s generation, 60s, 70s… it’s hard to meet a guy that isn’t a special guy that is a former Iowa football player. We had no clue in 1981 what was about to happen. We feel appreciative and fortunate.”
By leading Iowa to the Pinstripe Bowl win, Ferentz will get the opportunity to return to Yankee Stadium to throw out the first pitch during a regular season game during the 2018 season.
Boston College took over with excellent field position late in the fourth quarter, taking over at its own 48 with 5:22 remaining. After bottling up A.J. Dillon for a 2-yard gain on first down, BC quarterback Darius Wade over shot Tom Sweeney on second down, setting up a key third down.
Wade dropped back again, where sophomore Anthony Nelson sacked Wade and forced a fumble in the process. Junior Parker Hesse recovered, giving the Hawkeyes the ball on their own 45.
Wadley burst through for a 27-yard gain on first down to the 18 before Stanley hit Nate Wieting for a 17-yard gain to the 1. After instant replay wiped Wieting’s touchdown off the board, senior Drake Kulick gave Iowa the lead, bulldozing his way into the end zone from 1-yard out with 3:09 to play.
Wieting’s catch and Kulick’s rushing touchdown were the first of their careers.
WHEN IT WAS OVER
Needing a touchdown to extend the game, Boston College took possession at its own 30 with 3:01 to play. After picking up one first down and moving the ball to its own 45, Iowa junior Josh Jackson intercepted Wade, snagging his record-tying eighth interception of the season.
Senior Akrum Wadley’s final game as a Hawkeye was one to remember. Playing just 30 minutes from his hometown in Newark, New Jersey, Wadley was selected the Pinstripe Bowl Most Valuable Player after piling up 283 all-purpose yards as a jack-of-all-trades. Wadley broke C.J. Jones’ school bowl record (Orange Bowl, 169 yards vs. USC) for kickoff return yards, piling up 171 yards. He added 88 rushing yards with a touchdown and 24 receiving yards.
- Wadley finished the game with a career-high 283 all-purpose yards (88 rushing, 24 receiving, 171 kickoff return). He has 3,904 career all-purpose yards, ninth-most in program history (2,872 rush, 761 receiving, 271 KO returns).
- Wadley rushed 22 times for 88 yards today. He has 536 career carries for 2,872 rushing yards, fifth all-time.
- Wadley had one rushing touchdown today (5 yards). He has 28 career rushing touchdowns, fourth all-time, 35 career touchdowns, tying Sedrick Shaw for second all-time, and 210 career points, 10th all-time.
Sophomore Amani Hooker played for the first time since Nov. 4 to lead the Hawkeyes with 12 tackles against Boston College, and senior Josey Jewell finished with 11 tackles in his final career game, but sophomore Anthony Nelson was a difference-maker on the Iowa defense.
The Waukee, Iowa, native finished with six tackles (two solo), 1.5 sacks, and a quarterback hurry. Nelson’s fourth-quarter sack and subsequent forced fumble set up Iowa’s game-winning touchdown drive.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Iowa’s defense struck first when junior Jake Gervase intercepted Wade on the third play of the game and returned the interception 29 yards to the BC 6. The Eagles held, forcing Iowa to settle on a 24-yard Miguel Recinos field goal.
- Boston College churned out a 14-play, 62-yard drive late in the first quarter to take a 7-3 lead. The Eagles converted two third downs and a fourth-and-8 and A.J. Dillon rammed his way into the end zone from 4-yards out.
- Wadley set up Iowa’s first touchdown drive with a career-long 72-yard kickoff return on the ensuing possession. The Hawkeyes caught a break when N Merritt was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following his 12-yard sack and Iowa capitalized. Stanley connected with Noah Fant on an 8-yard touchdown pass to give Iowa a 10-7 lead.
- Boston College scored the final 10 points of the first half — seven coming off a 39-yard touchdown pass from Wade to Sweeney on a ball that was tipped by Amani Hooker. Dillon’s 66-yard run set up a C. Lichtenberg 30-yard field goal that made the score 17-10.
- The Eagles had a chance to add more when they executed in their two-minute offense, moving the ball to the Iowa 19 with six seconds left, but Lichtenberg missed a 36-yard field goal.
- Iowa tied the game on its second possession of the third quarter, using a seven-play, 58-yard scoring drive. The big play came via a 32-yard, third-down dart to Nick Easley to the 13. Two Wadley rushes later and the score was tied at 17.
- Iowa and Boston College traded field goals early in the fourth quarter. Recinos hit a 38-yard attempt to give Iowa a 20-17 lead before Lictenberg hit from 24 yards out. Hooker made a touchdown-saving tackle on the series when he caught Sweeney from behind, tackling him at the 7 following a 48-yard reception.
- Junior Josh Jackson’s fourth-quarter interception was his eighth of the season, tying a single-season school record — Desmond King (2015), Lou King (1981), and Nile Kinnick (1939). Jackson’s eight interceptions lead the nation. Iowa leads the nation with 21 interceptions this season.
- Nate Stanley’s 8-yard touchdown to tight end Noah Fant was his 26th touchdown pass of the season, tying Brad Banks (2002) for No. 2 on Iowa’s single-season record list. Chuck Long holds the single-season record with 27 TD passes (1985).
- Linebacker Josey Jewell had 11 tackles today. He has 22 career games with double-digit tackles, including nine this season.
- Jewell has 437 career tackles, fourth all-time in program history behind Abdul Hodge (453), Andre Jackson (465), and Larry Station (492). He passed Brad Quast (435) today.
- Jewell had 136 tackles this season, a single-season career high and the most by a Hawkeye since Pat Angerer in 2009 (145).
- Tight end Noah Fant caught an 8-yard touchdown reception, his team-high 11th of the season. The 11 TDs are a single-season record for an Iowa tight end. Mike Flagg holds the career record with 13. Fant’s 11 touchdowns are the most by a Hawkeye since Marvin McNutt caught 12 touchdown passes in 2012.
- Wide receiver Matt VandeBerg played in his 54th career game, more than any other player in school history. VandeBerg ended his career having at least one reception in 32 consecutive games played.
- VandeBerg has 134 career receptions, 10th most in program history.
- He has 1,686 career receiving yards, 15th in program history.
- Senior Nathan Bazata recorded a career-high nine tackles in his final game as a Hawkeye. Freshman Matt Hankins had a career-best seven tackles.
- Freshman Tristan Wirfs started at left tackle. He is the first true freshman to start at left tackle in the Ferentz era.
- Sophomore Levi Paulsen made his first career start at RT. It was his second career start (RG at Illinois in 2016).
Today’s game time temperature (23 degrees) at kickoff was the coldest for an Iowa game since 2013 vs. Michigan (18 degrees).
The Hawkeyes host Northern Illinois in the 2018 season opener on Sept. 1.