By JAMES ALLAN
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The University of Iowa tight ends stole the show, posting 100-yard receiving games and catching three of quarterback Nate Stanley’s career-high six touchdown passes in the Hawkeyes’ 42-16 victory over Indiana on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The win is Iowa’s second straight and fifth of the season. The Hawkeyes move to 5-1 overall, 2-1 in Big Ten Conference play.
Stanley completed 21-of-33 attempts for 320 yards for six touchdowns to five different players. Redshirt sophomore T.J. Hockenson had four receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns, while junior Noah Fant had four catches for 101 yards and one touchdown.
Stanley completed passes to nine different receivers, including touchdown passes to senior Nick Easley, fullback Austin Kelly, and running back Toren Young. It is the second time in school history five different players had a receiving touchdowns (1984 Freedom Bowl — Chuck Long).
“It was a lot of fun, we spread them out pretty well,” said Hockenson. “We got the run game going in the second half and it showed, being able to spread the defense out and get some yards.”
The Hawkeyes trailed 3-0 before scoring 14 unanswered points. After taking a 21-10 lead into the locker room, Iowa outscored the Hoosiers, 21-6, in the second half.
Iowa finished with 479 yards of total offense with 320 yards coming through the air. It is Stanley’s second straight 300-yard passing game. Young and Mekhi Sargent paced an Iowa rushing attack that finished with 159 yards. Young had a career-high 96 yards on 19 attempts, while Sargent had 10 carries for 59 yards.
“Nate is our rock of the offense. He can look off the safety and make sure we’re one-on-one with a guy,” said Hockenson. “He goes into depth in everything that he does and it shows on the field.”
Defensively, Iowa limited Indiana to 330 yards, 67 coming on the ground, which are the second-fewest of the season. The Hawkeyes forced two turnovers — second-half interceptions by Geno Stone and Jake Gervase — and finished with two sacks and six tackles for loss.
Gervase and junior Kristian Welch led Iowa defensively with eight tackles.
WHEN IT WAS OVER
Iowa led 21-10 at the half before putting the game away with touchdown drives on its first two possessions of the second half.
The Hawkeyes took the second half kickoff and drove 63 yards to go up 28-10. Stanley found Hockenson for a 30-yard gain for the big play of the series to the 6. After Indiana stuffed Sargent for a 5-yard loss on first down, Stanley connected with Young out of the backfield for an 11-yard touchdown. It was Young’s first career catch.
After Iowa’s defense forced a three-and-out, the Hawkeyes needed just three plays to stretch its lead. After runs of 2 and 5 yards by Young, Stanley found Hockenson on a short route and he did the rest, going 54-yards for the score, extending the Iowa lead to 35-10 lead with 9:19 left.
QUOTING HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ
“It was a workman-like performance by our team. They had good focus and confidence and that stems from a good week of practice. That has been our goal week-in and week-out. I am happy about the way we responded and came up with some big plays. Geno’s pick in the end zone was a big play for us, it helped us gain control of things again.
“The guys did a good job, there was good protection for the most part, including the backs and tight ends when they were called upon. Guys got open; they played a lot of man coverage against us and Nate got the ball where he had to. There were more big plays than you’d expect in a game, but a lot of that was their aggressive nature on defense.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Hoosiers grabbed an early 3-0 lead with a 13-play, 64-yard scoring drive on their first possession. Stone forced a fumble on third-and-1, but the Hoosiers recovered for a first down before advancing to the Iowa 11. After stopping an Indiana rush on third-and-5, Logan Justus connected on a 29-yard field goal.
- Iowa scored on its opening possession for a second straight week with a five-play, 74-yard drive. Sophomore Brandon Smith went up for a 23-yard gain on a back shoulder throw on the second play of the game and Iowa took advantage three Hoosier penalties on the drive, including a pass interference call that negated an Raheem Layne interception. Hockenson closed out the drive with a leaping 9-yard touchdown catch, giving the Hawkeyes a 7-0 lead.
- The Hawkeyes made it two drives and two scores with an 11-play, 70-yard touchdown drive on their second possession. It was a steady dose of Young and Sargent to start the drive. Iowa converted a fourth-and-2 from the IU 30 before Stanley connected with Fant on a 28-yard touchdown pass, making the score 14-0 with 1:21 left in the first quarter.
- Indiana utilized a zone blitz to notch the game’s first turnover. After faking a blitz, linebacker Thomas Allen dropped into coverage and intercepted Stanley at the IU 37 before returning it 29 yards to the Iowa 34. Two plays later, Peyton Ramsey hit Ty Fryfogle for a 33-yard touchdown pass, making the score 14-10 with 12:17 left in the second quarter.
- Sophomore Ihmir Smith-Marsette jump-started Iowa’s answer with a 60-yard kickoff return to the IU 38. Iowa needed four plays to find the end zone as Stanley hit Sargent for 21 yards and avoided pressure and shucked off a linebacker before connecting with Nick Easley on a 12-yard touchdown pass to give the Hawkeyes a 21-10 advantage.
- After falling behind 35-10, Indiana drove 75 yards over eight plays for a touchdown. Ramsey hit Luke Timian for 22 yards and the Hoosiers took advantage of a pass interference penalty on Michael Ojemudia to move into the red zone. Ramsey scored on the next play from 12 yards out, but the two-point conversion failed.
- After Stone picked off Ramsey in the end zone, Iowa’s offense covered 80 yards in nine plays for its final touchdown of the day. Stanley hit Fant for 58 yards before he was tripped up at the IU 21. Stanley capped the drive with his sixth touchdown pass, a 4-yarder to Austin Kelly, making the score 42-16.
- Iowa has won seven of the last eight meetings against Indiana. The Hawkeyes 42 points are the most scored in a game in Bloomington since a 45-9 win in 2008. Iowa has scored 40-plus points against Indiana five times in the last eight games.
- Stanley’s six touchdowns tie Chuck Long for the second most in single-game history (Long twice threw six touchdowns in a game. The single-game record is held by Chuck Hartlieb – 7 vs Northwestern in 1987). It was his 11th career multi-touchdown game, and his fourth straight.
- Stanley has 14 touchdowns over the last four games. That touchdown total ties for the most ever over a four-game stretch in school history (Chuck Long threw 14 touchdowns over a four-game stretch in 1985).
- He has four career 300-yard games (three in the last four games).
- Stanley had three touchdowns in the first half and three in the second half. It is the third and fourth time in his career he had three touchdown passes in a single half (Ohio State 2017, Minnesota 2018)
- Stanley has 41 career touchdown passes. He moved past Chuck Hartlieb (37) and C.J. Beathard (40) today and ties for No. 6 on Iowa’s all-time list with Matt Rodgers (41).
- Stanley had 320 yards passing on 33 attempts. He has 3,972 career passing yards, 11th all-time. He moved past Gary Snook (3,738) today.
- Fant had one touchdown reception (28). He has 18 career touchdown receptions, fourth all-time in program history. The 18 receiving touchdowns by a tight end rank third all-time in Big Ten history. Seventeen of Fant’s 18 touchdowns have come from Stanley over the last 19 games.
- Hockenson had four catches for 107 yards. It is his second career 100-yard receiving game (Wisconsin, 2017). Hockenson had two receiving touchdowns (9, 54). It is he second career two-touchdown reception game (Ohio State 2017). Hockenson’s 54-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter was the longest reception of his career.
- Iowa had two 100-yard receivers (Hockenson 4-107, Fant 4-101) for the first time since 2011 vs. Pittsburgh (K. Davis 10-129, M. McNutt 8-112).
- In two career starts, Stone has eight tackles and two interceptions. He started for the second week in a row, and recorded an interception for the second week in row, both in the red zone. He has three career interceptions.
- The Hawkeyes had 479 yards of total offense today and have exceeded 400 yards in four consecutive games (UNI, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana) for the first time since 2014 (Purdue, Indiana, Maryland, Northwestern).
- Iowa has won five of its first six games for the eighth time in Kirk Ferentz’s 20 seasons (2018, 5-1; 2015, 6-0; 2014, 5-1; 2010, 5-1; 2009, 6-0; 2006, 5-1; 2003, 5-1; 2002, 5-1).
ON THE HORIZON
Iowa returns to Kinnick Stadium on Oct. 20, hosting a Homecoming game against Maryland beginning at 11 a.m. (CT).