LINCOLN, Neb. — Junior Keith Duncan’s 48-yard field goal with one second remaining sent the 19th-ranked University of Iowa football team to a 27-24 Hy-Vee Heroes Game victory over Nebraska on Friday afternoon inside Memorial Stadium.
Iowa took over at its own 26 yard-line with 32 seconds remaining and the game knotted at 24. The Hawkeyes started the drive strong, completing a pass to Nico Ragaini to the Nebraska 35, but the play was overturned by instant replay.
The Hawkeyes went back to work, and Stanley completed a 22-yard pass to Ihmir Smith Marsette on third-and-10 to the Iowa 48. Iowa moved into field goal range on the following play when Stanley hit freshman Sam LaPorta for 22 more yards to the Nebraska 30, setting up the potential game-winner for the Hawkeyes’ Lou Groza Award finalist with six seconds to play.
Nebraska called its second timeout to ice Duncan. They called their final timeout just before Duncan sent the kick through the uprights. Duncan then did it again, hitting from 48 yards out to give Iowa its ninth win of the season and fifth straight over the Huskers (fourth straight in Lincoln).
“I am so glad they called their timeouts,” said Duncan. “It allowed me get my mind set, focus on what I needed to, and find my spot in the background. In the second half we didn’t have many opportunities to kick — no extra points or field goals. I had to get back in the rhythm and routine and go out and execute.”
The Hawkeyes out-gained Nebraska, 324-284, in the game despite the Huskers having nearly eight more minutes in time of possession and running 23 more plays.
Freshman Tyler Goodson ran for a career-high 116 yards on 13 carries and had a 55-yard touchdown run, while Stanley finished 11-of-24 for 99 yards. Smith-Marsette had a 45-yard touchdown run and also returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
LaPorta had a team-high 37 yards on three catches, including the key 22 yarder on the game-winning drive.
Junior A.J. Epenesa led a trio of Hawkeyes with double-digit tackles, making a career-high 14 tackles (nine solo) with two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. Redshirt freshman Jack Koerner had 11 tackles and his first career interception, while senior Kristian Welch finished with 10 stops and 1.5 tackles for loss.
The Hawkeyes limited Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez to a 10-of-18 performance through the air and 44 rushing yards on 21 attempts. Dedrick Mills finished with 94 yards on 24 carries.
“It’s never easy in November, the weather was a little interesting. I am proud of the way this team has answered every challenge thrown in front of them and today was no different. We started fast, we wanted to do that, we have a lot of respect for the big play ability Nebraska has and suspected they’d make a push and they did in the second half.
“Our guys stood tall and did a great job. I am thrilled to get the victory. Keith Duncan, what can I say there? Twenty-nine field goals now, 48/49 yards. That was outstanding. The defense did a great job, gave up the one big play, other than that, we made them work and that was critical for us. All three areas made big plays and made contributions to the success of things.
“In a nutshell, A.J. Epenesa was phenomenal. The whole defense played well, but he was a catalyst out there. Nate continues to lead our football team and those last three throws he made were all big-time throws, and the job Duncan has done all season long.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Hawkeyes grabbed the 7-0 lead on their second possession of the game. After taking over at its own 44, Goodson ran for 11 yards on the first carry before Smith-Marsette scored untouched on a 45-yard reverse with Stanley accompanying him on the Husker sideline.
- The 45-yard rush was the longest of Smith-Marsette’s career and his second career rushing touchdown.
- Nebraska took advantage of starting field position at the Iowa 37 to break on to the scoreboard. Martinez had a 20-yard completion to Kade Warner on third-and-16. Iowa surrendered 13 yards over seven plays before Matt Waldoch kicked a 41-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.
- Iowa had a quick answer, needing just two plays to stretch the lead to 14-3. Stanley hit LaPorta for 8-yards on first down before Goodson scored on a 55-yard rushing touchdown on an inside zone run — the longest rush of his career.
- The Hawkeyes extended their lead to 17-3 with a 13-play, 41-yard scoring drive. Goodson’s spun for a 21-yard gain to move Iowa into Nebraska territory. The Hawkeyes moved to the Husker 19 before Iowa was stopped for losses of 9, 3, and 0 yards. Iowa got three points when Duncan tied a career-long, hitting a 49-yard field goal.
- Nebraska’s defense forced the game’s first turnover, and it resulted in points. On second-and-3 from the 38, Stanley targeted Smith-Marsette, but Darien Chase jumped the route, tipped the pass, and Cam Taylor-Britt intercepted the pass and returned it 38-yards for the pick six. The touchdown made the score 17-10 with 8:54 remaining in the half.
- Smith-Marsette provided the Hawkeyes with an answer, returning the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to make the score 24-10. The return was the ninth-longest in school history and it was Iowa’s first kickoff return for a touchdown since Jordan Cotton against Penn State in 2012.
- The Hawkeyes evened the turnover battle with the Huskers driving before half. Nebraska drove to the Iowa 31 before Koerner intercepted Martinez at the 5 and returned it 20 yards to the 25. It was Koerner’s first career interception.
- Nebraska cut the lead in half with a 59-yard scoring drive on its second possession of the third quarter. The Huskers scored via the big play when Luke McCaffery faked a quarterback run before zipping a 39-yard touchdown pass to JD Spielman to make the score 24-17 with 8:24 left in the third quarter.
- The Huskers grinded out a 13-play, 60-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 24. Nebraska ran 12 times during the drive; the pass came on a 11-yard completion to Warner on fourth-and-6. Wyatt Mazour’s 9-yard touchdown run tied the game at 24 with 32 seconds left in the third quarter.
- Kirk Ferentz has 97 Big Ten Conference wins, passing Hayden Fry (96) for fourth all-time in conference history.
- Ferentz has 161 wins as a member of the Big Ten Conference, fifth all-time and one win from tying Joe Paterno (162) for fourth all-time.
- Duncan connected on a 48-yard field goal with one second remaining to break a 24-24 tie and give Iowa a 27-24 win. It was Duncan’s second of two field goals made today (49, 48). He has 29 made field goals this season, a single-season school record, a Big Ten record, and tied for the sixth most in NCAA single-season history. Duncan is 29-of-34 on field attempts this season, and 14-of-18 on field goal tries of 40-yards. Duncan has 38 career made field goals, sixth all-time in school history.
- Duncan’s game-winning field goal was the third fourth-quarter winning field goal of his career. He kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired to defeat Michigan in 2016, and made a 39-yard field goal with 4:51 left in the fourth quarter to defeat Iowa State, 18-17, in 2019.
- Koerner (11) and Welch (10) had double-digit tackle games. Koerner recorded his first career interception (20 yard return) to thwart Nebraska’s final drive of the first half. Welch has 33 tackles in his last three games.
- Stanley passed for 99 yards today, raising his career total to 8,089. He is the third player in program history to pass for 8,000 or more yards (Chuck Long 10,461; Drew Tate 8,292).
- Smith-Marsette’s 45-yard touchdown rush in the first quarter was a career-long. The rush put Smith-Marsette over 2,500 career all-purpose yards. He is the 20th player in program history to reach that total. Smith-Marsette has 2,631 all-purpose yards, 20th all-time.
- Smith-Marsette’s 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown ties for the ninth-longest in school history. It is the first kickoff returned for a touchdown by the Hawkeyes since Jordan Cotton returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown against Penn State in 2012.
- Smith-Marsette has scored a touchdown by reception (4), rush (2), and kickoff return (1) this season.
- Goodson rushed 13 times for a career-high 116 yards and a touchdown. It is his first career 100-yard game. His 55-yard touchdown rush in the first quarter was the longest of his career and the longest rushing touchdown by Iowa this season, and the longest by a Hawkeye since Akrum Wadley in 2016 (75 yards vs. Nebraska).
- Goodson is Iowa’s leading rusher this season (590 yards). No true freshman has ever led the team in single-season rushing yards. The last redshirt freshman to lead Iowa in single-season rushing yards was Ladell Betts in 1998 (679 yards).
- Prior to Smith-Marsette (45) and Goodson’s (55) first quarter touchdown rushes, the Hawkeyes’ longest rushing touchdown of the season was 14 yards.
- Iowa had 152 rushing yards in the first quarter alone, it highest single-game total since Sept. 28 against Middle Tennessee State (351). Iowa finished with 225 yards rushing, its second high total of the season.
- Iowa had 191 yards in the first quarter, 18 combined in the second and third quarter, and 115 in the fourth quarter. The Hawkeye defense held Nebraska to 39 yards in the fourth quarter. Nebraska was held below 30 points for just the second time this year.
- Iowa has recorded its eighth nine-win season since 1999.
- The Hawkeyes are 3-1 in three trophy games this season. Iowa defended the Cy-Hawk Trophy against Iowa State and the Floyd of Rosedale trophy against #8 Minnesota. The Hawkeyes fell to No.16 Wisconsin in a battle for the Heartland Trophy.
- The Hawkeyes have won five straight against Nebraska, including the last four meetings in Lincoln (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019). Iowa’s 38-17 win in 2013 was its first win at Nebraska since 1943.
- The Hawkeyes are 16-4 in their last 20 rivalry trophy games (Iowa State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin), with all four losses coming to Wisconsin.
The Hawkeyes await their bowl destination. The destination will be announced Sunday, Dec. 8.