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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Make it four straight.
The University of Iowa used a stingy defense to post a 13-3 Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series victory over Iowa State on Saturday in front of a sold out crowd of 69,250 in Kinnick Stadium.
It is the first time in the Kirk Ferentz era that Iowa has won four straight over the Cyclones. The Hawkeyes won 15 consecutive meetings from 1983-97 under Hayden Fry.
The Cyclones went 66-yards (posting four first downs) over 13 plays on their first drive of the game, which resulted in a 23-yard field by Connor Assalley.
Iowa’s defense allowed 122 yards the rest of the way and knocked Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt out of the game late in the third quarter.
Following the field goal on the first series, Iowa State’s drives went:
Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Downs, Punt, Punt, Fumble.
The Hawkeyes held the Cyclones to 19 yards on the ground — tied for the fifth-fewest under Ferentz. Iowa also limited Wisconsin to 19 yards in 2005.
Iowa State’s defense was about as good, holding the Hawkeyes to 73 yards in the first half. Iowa started two first-half drives deep in Iowa State territory — at the 21 and 28 yard lines following two shanked 13-yard punts from Corey Dunn — but Iowa but could muster only three points.
Senior Miguel Recinos missed a 38-yard field goal late in the first quarter before tying the game with a 31-yard field goal with 2:16 left in the first half.
The Hawkeyes grabbed their first lead midway through the third quarter when Recinos connected from 48-yards out to cap a six-play, 40-yard scoring drive.
The key play on the drive came on second-and-10 from the Iowa 30. Junior Nate Stanley connected with sophomore Ihmir Smith-Marsette for a 45-yard completion off play action, giving Iowa a first-and-10 at the ISU 25.
Iowa finished the game with 271 yards of total offense, finishing with 105 rushing yards on 36 attempts and 166 through the air. Sophomore Toren Young finished with 68 yards on 21 attempts, while sophomore Mekhi Sargent had 25 yards on 11 carries with one touchdown.
Junior Nate Stanley completed 16-of-28 attempts for 166 yards. Junior T.J. Hockenson had six receptions for 33 yards.
Sophomore Matt Hankins and senior Jack Hockaday tied for the team lead with eight tackles apiece. Iowa had four sacks, including two from sophomore A.J. Epenesa. The defensive end also had a forced fumble (that Chauncey Golston recovered) on Iowa State’s final drive of the game.
QUOTING HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ
“What a difference a year makes. Last year was a track meet up-and-down the field, and today was just a great defensive battle by both teams. I thought both teams played hard, competed hard, and that’s exactly what you’d expect in this kind of football game.
“Coming into this game, we had tremendous respect for their offensive scheme and their players. The running back is a tremendous player. For our defense to be able to do the things they did today, it speaks highly of them.
“Overall, it was a tough-hard nosed game for both teams, especially defensively. We were playing it hard, making it difficult on the opposing offenses.
“We’re thrilled to get the victory. It was hard-fought, and that’s going to help us down the road. Our offense had real struggles during the day, and the course of the day and a lot of those were brought on by the way they played. We played through it, and the highlight was that long drive and Brandon Smith coming up with a big stretch there. Him getting us going a little bit was big.”
WHEN IT WAS OVER
The Hawkeyes were clinging to a 6-3 lead when it took over on their own 17 yard line with 11:17 remaining. Iowa put the game away with a 13-play, 83-yard scoring drive — both season-bests — to secure its fourth straight victory in the series.
Iowa converted three key third downs on the series — a 9-yard completion to T.J. Hockenson to the 27 on a play that was overturned by instant replay, a 4-yard run by Brady Ross on third-and-1 at midfield, and a back-breaking 30-yard completion to sophomore Brandon Smith to the 2 that set up the game’s only touchdown.
Stanley checked down at the line of scrimmage and connected with Smith for a 30-yard completion on a fade route down the east sideline, beating Iowa State cornerback D’Andre Payne. Sophomore Mekhi Sargent found the end zone from 2-yards out on the next play, extending Iowa’s lead to 13-3.
Iowa State drove 66 yards on its opening drive and had a first-and goal from the 2. The Cyclones went to the air, completing a pass to Dylan Soehner for no gain on first down before redshirt freshman Djimon Colbert stopped David Montgomery for a 1-yard gain on second down.
After an incompletion on third down, Iowa State brought in a jumbo package on fourth-and-goal from the 1. The play never occurred as left guard Josh Mueller was flagged for a false start, thus forcing Iowa State to settle for a field goal.
The Cyclones made it into Iowa territory just once more the entire game.
- Iowa has won four straight Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series trophy games, and 11 out of its last 13 trophy games (games vs. Iowa State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin).
- Iowa State has managed just six points in its last two trips to Kinnick Stadium (one field goal in 2016, one field goal in 2018). It has been three years and 360 days since Iowa State scored a touchdown in Kinnick Stadium (9/13/14).
- In in its last three regular season games, Iowa has outscored its opponents 82-7 in the second half (42-0 at Nebraska, 30-7 vs. Northern Illinois, 10-0 vs. Iowa State).
ON THE HORIZON
The Hawkeyes return to action Sept. 15, hosting Northern Iowa at 6:30 p.m. (CT) inside Kinnick Stadium.