Hawkeyes Open Season Downing Utah State, 24-14

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The No. 25 ranked University of Iowa football team defeated Utah State on Saturday afternoon, 24-14, on Duke Slater Field at Kinnick Stadium.

The Hawkeyes came out firing as the offense needed only 33 seconds to score on the first drive of the game. Cade McNamara connected on his first pass attempt as a Hawkeye, a 36-yard strike, to a wide-open Seth Anderson in the endzone.

“I was so fired up,” said McNamara. “We had the exact look we wanted. To be honest, I was kind of surprised that play was called that early. I was expecting maybe a play action or something, but when Brian called it and we got the look that we wanted, I was just so fired up to be able to hit that. Seth made a great play on it.”

McNamara connected on 17-of-30 pass attempts for 191 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Deacon Hill was 1-for-3 for five yards.

Kaleb Johnson led the Hawkeyes with 63 yards rushing on 19 attempts and a touchdown. Luke Lachey led the team in receiving with 73 yards on a career-high seven receptions. Erick All and Anderson each hauled in a score.

Defensively, Jay Higgins led the team with a career-high 16 tackles (11 solo). Cooper DeJean had seven tackles (four solo), and DeShaun Lee had six tackles (four solo). Xavier Nwankpa pulled in an interception.

“I feel like we did a good job handling the tempo,” said Higgins. “Everybody got aligned. Everybody’s eyes were right. Obviously, there are some things to clean up. It is the first time this group, this defense has played together. I am really proud of the guys.”


“We had a lot of good momentum going in all three phases and then got stopped on the fourth down and seemed to be a drop off at that point. Some things that we’re going to have to get cleaned up, certainly. So that’s going to be the challenge this week. I saw cliche-wise about week one to week two, and that is true. I think overall it’s true, most cliches are, if you make it be true.

That will be a challenge, but some plays we’ll see on tape that were close where we couldn’t quite execute them offensively, defensively.  Special teams survived a punt block. I’ve never seen one quite like that. Certainly that was a good thing, so that’s going to be the next thing moving forward. Work will begin today, but right now we’re going to enjoy the fact that we came out of it 1-0, and I think fairly healthy. The other big thing is everybody has to get rested and recover a little bit so we can get back to work next week.

Again, all-in-all happy about the guys’ effort. Happy to get the win.

Just do want to say, too, that our fans were fantastic. It was great to come out in Kinnick. The place was sold out, and it was lively and a great environment down there. We appreciate their enthusiasm.


  • The Hawkeyes opened the scoring on the first drive of the game. After a 54-yard kickoff return and a three-yard rush both by Kaleb Johnson. McNamara connected with Anderson for the first touchdown of the Iowa’s season.

  • After the Iowa defense forced a three and out the Hawkeye offense drove 11 plays for 75 yards to score. On fourth and goal McNamara connected with Erick All for a three-yard score.

  • Utah State scored their first points connecting on a 32-yard field goal with 11:03 remaining in the first half to cap a 16-play 56-yard drive.
  • An interception by Xavier Nwankpa set up the Hawkeyes at the Utah State 49-yard line. The Hawkeyes used 11 plays to drive 47-yards down the field and Drew Stevens connected on a 20-yard field goal to extend the Iowa lead.

  • On the opening drive of the second half Utah State drove 47-yards over seven plays to set up a 45-yard field goal from Elliot Nimrod.
  • With 10:17 remaining in the game Kaleb Johnson found the endzone on a 3-yard rush, capitalizing on a 68-yard drive that elapsed 4:43 and 10 plays.

  • Utah State scored a touchdown with 1:36 remaining in the fourth quarter after a three play 70-yard drive. The two-point conversation was good.
  • QB Cade McNamara completed 17-of-30 attempts (56.6 percent) for 191 yards and two touchdowns in his Iowa debut (17th career start).
    • McNamara had a 36-yard touchdown pass on his first career attempt as a Hawkeye. He is the first Iowa quarterback since Chuck Long in 1983 to have a touchdown pass on his first completion of the season (24 yards to Norm Granger against Iowa State).
  • TE Luke Lachey tied a career-high with seven receptions for 73 yards, including a 31-yarder in the fourth quarter.
    • Iowa’s tight ends (Lachey and Erick All) combined for 10 catches for 88 yards and one touchdown
  • RB Kaleb Johnson led Iowa’s rushing attack with 63 yards on 19 attempts, including a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. It is Johnson’s seventh career rushing touchdown.
    • Johnson also had a career-long 54-yard kickoff return on the opening kickoff of the 2023 season.
  • WR Seth Anderson had a 36-yard touchdown reception and TE Erick All had a 3-yard touchdown reception – both players’ first career receptions at Iowa.
  • LB Jay Higgins had a career high 15 tackles, including 11 solo stops. It was his second career game with 10 or more tackles.
  • DB Xavier Nwankpa had his second career interception in the second quarter. Nwankpa has two interceptions in two career starts.
  • Iowa’s opening drive touchdown pass was the first to open a season since 1991 vs. Hawaii (Matt Rodgers-to-Danan Hughes). It is the first time in the Kirk Ferentz era that Iowa opened the season with a passing touchdown.
    • Iowa had touchdowns on consecutive drives for the first time since Nov. 5, 2022, at Purdue and it is the first time the unit had two first-quarter touchdowns in the opening quarter since Nevada (9/17/22).
  • DL Deontae Craig, DL Yahya Black and DB Deshaun Lee made their first career starts. QB Cade McNamara, TE Erick All and LB Nick Jackson made their first career starts as Hawkeyes.
  • Iowa won the toss and elected to receive. The Hawkeyes have played 302 games under head coach Kirk Ferentz. Iowa has opened the game on offense 221 times (141-80). The Hawkeyes have opened the game on defense 81 times (46-35).

The Hawkeyes return to action Sept. 9, traveling to Ames, Iowa, for an Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup against Iowa State. The game will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. (CT) and be televised on FOX.