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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The first season-opening night game in school history saw the No. 19/20 University of Iowa football team win its sixth straight opener, downing Miami (Ohio), 38-14, inside a sold-out Kinnick Stadium.
After leading 10-7 at the half, the Hawkeyes outscored Miami, 28-7, over the final 30 minutes to notch its first win of the 2019 season. The Hawkeyes piled up 263 yards — of their 465 yards — in the second half, while the Iowa defense limited the Redhawks to 105 second-half yards.
Senior Nate Stanley completed 21-of-30 attempts for 252 yards and three touchdowns — to junior Brandon Smith, sophomore Oliver Martin and junior Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Junior Mekhi Sargent finished with 156 yards in the game — rushing for 91 yards and a touchdown on 14 attempts to go along with a career-high four catches for 65 yards.
Stanley completed passes to 10 different receivers in the game. Iowa rushed for 213 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt.
Sophomore Djimon Colbert and senior Kristian Welch tied for the team lead with eight tackles. Senior Michael Ojemudia’s had a fourth quarter interception to go along with three tackles.
Miami (Ohio) finished with 245 yards and just 11 first downs in the game with only 56 coming on the ground. Quarterback Brett Gabbert was 17-of-27 for 186 yards with two touchdowns.
QUOTING HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ
“It was an excellent way to start the season. Our first half was a little sporadic at times, and we had some misfires, but we came back in the second half and played well.
“All-in-all I was pleased. We had some good efforts out there, and Nate (Stanley) had a good night. Mekhi (Sargent) played well and the receivers did a good job. Tristan (Wirfs), jumping over to the left side from the right tackle position was notable. The newcomers got their first action on the field, whether it was true freshmen or redshirt freshmen and that’s important.
“The bottom line is where we are where we want to be right now. We’re 1-0 with plenty of opportunity to improve. There’s a lot of things we’ll see that have to cleaned up, but we have an opportunity to be clean it up and improve on it. I want to thank our fans for a great environment. A night game in Kinnick is always special, and the crowd was tremendous. It was great to have a sellout on a holiday weekend.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
- On their second possession, the Hawkeyes used a 13-play, 79-yard drive to take a 3-0 lead. Stanley rushed for 16 yards to the Miami 24 yard-line on third-and 4, and Iowa drove to the 6. On third and goal, Stanley connected with Shaun Beyer to the 3, but Iowa had to settle on junior Keith Duncan’s 21-yard field goal to give Iowa a 3-0 lead with 1:17 left in the first quarter.
- Miami countered with a 10-play, 77-yard scoring drive to take a 7-3 lead. The Redhawks converted three third downs on the series and hit the Hawkeyes for two big plays — gains of 30 and 20 yards. Jack Sorenson’s 11-yard touchdown reception gave Miami its only lead with 11:54 remaining in the half.
- Iowa followed with a nine-play, 79-yard scoring drive to regain the lead. The key play came on third-and-16 from midfield when Stanley hit Sargent for 41 yards on a screen pass to the Iowa 9. Stanley connected with Brandon Smith on a jump ball in the corner of the end zone — over former Hawkeye teammate Manny Rugamba — on the next play to give the Hawkeyes a 10-7 lead.
- Iowa scored on its first two possessions of the third quarter to take control. Three straight Sargent rushes moved Iowa to midfield before Stanley hit Beyer for 18 yards to the Miami 25. After Ihmir Smith-Marsette ran for 16 yards on an end around to the 9, Stanley connected with Martin for a 9-yard touchdown on his second play as a Hawkeye.
- Iowa took over a midfield following a Redhawk punt and the Hawkeyes needed just three plays to cover 56 yards. Stanley hit Nico Ragaini for 45 yards in the seam to the 4 before Sargent scored from 2 yards out to give Iowa a 24-7 lead with 6:25 left in the third quarter.
- The Hawkeyes committed the game’s first turnover at the end of the third quarter when senior Brady Ross fumbled at the Miami 35. The Redhawks turned the miscue into seven points when Gabbert led the team on a 60-yard scoring drive, which ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Homer with 12:53 remaining.
- Iowa’s second-to-last touchdown spanned nearly seven minutes and covered 75 yards. The Hawkeyes converted three third downs on the series before senior Toren Young scored from 2-yards out on fourth-and goal, giving Iowa a 31-14 lead with 5:56 to play.
- The Hawkeyes turned an Ojemudia interception into the game’s final score. Ojemudia picked off Gabbert on the first play of the series and returned it 14 yards to the Miami 23. Stanley connected with Smith-Marsette on a 6-yard touchdown pass on a bubble screen on third down, pushing the lead to 38-14.
- Stanley threw three touchdowns to raise his career total to 55 — 1 behind Ricky Stanzi (56) for third all-time in program history. He has 15 career multi-touchdown games.
- Stanley had 252 yards passing, raising his career total to 5,603 and passing C.J. Beathard for eighth all-time in school history.
- Landan Paulsen and Levi Paulsen became the first set of twin brothers to start for the Hawkeyes since strong safety Kent Ellis and cornerback Kevin Ellis in 1980. The last brothers to start in the same game for the Hawkeyes were James and LeShun Daniels. James was Iowa’s starting center in the 2016 season opener against Miami (Ohio), and LeShun was Iowa’s starting running back.
- Duncan scored eight points (1 FG, 5 PAT). Duncan had not played in game since January 1, 2017 at the Outback Bowl.
- Iowa is 97-32-2 (.740) in season-opening games, including a 18-3 mark under coach Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes have won six straight season openers and are 18-1 since 2001. Iowa has won nine straight nonconference games over the last two seasons.
- Ten different Hawkeyes had at least one reception. Including career firsts from tight end Sean Beyer, wide receiver Oliver Martin (first as a Hawkeye), and running back Tyler Goodson.
The Hawkeyes return to action Saturday, hosting Rutgers in their Big Ten opener at 11 a.m. (CT).