CHICAGO – The University of Iowa football team defeated Northwestern, 10-7, at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field on Saturday.
A blocked punt by Anterio Thompson in the third quarter set up the first Hawkeye scoring drive. Kicker Drew Stevens drilled a 53-yard walk-off in the game’s final minute.
The Hawkeyes held Northwestern to 170 total yards of offense on 61 plays from scrimmage.
Tight end Addison Ostrenga caught Iowa’s touchdown on a pass from quarterback Deacon Hill, who finished 10-of-15 passing for 65 yards.
Running back Leshon Williams led Iowa’s rushing effort with 79 yards on 24 carries. The Hawkeyes ran for 104 yards on Saturday.
Five different Hawkeyes hauled in sacks, including linebacker Jay Higgins, who led the way with 12 tackles (6 solo).
The Hawkeyes have won four of the last five against the Wildcats, including three straight.
QUOTING KIRK FERENTZ
“I am really proud of our football team. They played with a lot of heart and resolve out there, which is really what the game is all about. It was a tough, physical game. Very competitive. There haven’t been many times when we played Northwestern where it is not tough. Maybe an exception in ’02, but that is about it. Guys kept competing out there, working away at it. Really proud of the team to be 7-2 right now, happy for each other and playing for each other.
Defensively, we obviously played really well. Gave up the one scoring drive. Credit to our opponent on that one, but outside of that, the defense played really well. To come up with a goal-line stand is huge. Our opponents did the same thing last week in their game against Maryland. That was a big, big, big part of that victory, too. Really great job [by the defense].
Special teams were a little spotty today, but coming up with a punt block, that was huge. That was great complimentary football, getting the stop, getting the punt block and then coming back and converting that for a touchdown. That is how we have to play. So, that was big. Tory [Taylor] did not have his best day, but if we needed him there at the end, I am confident he would have come back. Good players do that, and he has been one of our best players this year. Same thing with Drew [Stevens]. Drew hit that first one off of the post and ends up basically in the same spot and nails the winner. Really proud of the resiliency those guys showed.
I think offensively we did some good things today. Not enough, and that is something we will just keep working at. We had a couple injuries, unfortunately. Did some really good things as well, moved the ball. I think we left about nine points out there in the first half, which if we are going to win moving forward, we are going to have to learn how to convert those things. We have got to do a better job there, but certainly did some better things in the second half. The last drive, they got the ball down there to give Drew a chance to nail it.
Last but not least, appreciative of our fans turning out the way they did. It was probably a little better experience for the fans than the participants, quite frankly, as far as the logistics. It is cool to be in Wrigley Field, I am not minimizing that. Appreciate the history. Hoping that moving forward the league comes up with a policy where both teams have to co-sign. Seems like that would be a fair thing to do.
All that being said, we are going home happy. Seven wins makes the bus ride a little bit easier for us.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
- On the opening drive, Iowa moved the ball 37 yards in 10 plays before being forced to punt. Tory Taylor placed a punt inside the Wildcat 12-yard line.
- The Hawkeyes sacked Northwestern quarterback Brendan Sullivan to force a three-and-out, ending the drive at the Wildcat 6-yard line. Defensive back Cooper DeJean returned the punt 45 yards down to the 13-yard line, but the play was nullified due to an Iowa block in the back penalty.
- The second Iowa drive set up an off-center, 53-yard field goal try for kicker Drew Stevens. The kick had the necessary distance, but rattled off the right crossbar.
- Iowa opened the second quarter with a 41-yard drive, facilitated by an eight-yard throw to wide receiver Diante Vines that picked up 15 extra yards on a Northwestern sideline penalty; the Hawkeyes and Wildcats shared the same sideline on Saturday due to the venue configuration. The drive ended with a Northwestern interception in the end zone for a touchback.
- The Wildcats received the ball to start the third quarter. Another three-and-out forced Northwestern to punt, resulting in the Anterio Thompson block to give Iowa first and ten at the opposing 25-yard line.
- Iowa closed the distance to go up 7-0 with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter. The drive started with a seven-yard pass to tight end Addison Ostrenga, followed by four consecutive runs down to second and goal from the two-yard line. Quarterback Deacon Hill connected with Ostrenga on the same roll-out route that started the drive, this time for a Hawkeye touchdown.
- Northwestern’s next major scoring opportunity came on a nine-minute, 18-play drive that brought up first and two from the Iowa one-yard line. The Hawkeyes made a goal-line stand, stuffing four Wildcat runs near the line of scrimmage. Iowa took over on downs with 6:36 remaining in the fourth quarter.
- The Wildcats weren’t finished, forcing Iowa to punt from backed up inside its own 10-yard line. The punt was taken back 23 yards to the Iowa 22-yard line. Northwestern scored, hitting a touchdown pass on third down from the five-yard line.
- With the score even, Iowa’s offense took the field from its 28-yard line with 1:46 left on the clock. The Hawkeyes moved the ball, first picking up a first down on an eight-yard pass to wideout Nico Ragaini and then rushing for three yards on a handoff to Leshon Williams.
- Hill dropped back to pass, hitting wide receiver Kaleb Brown 23 yards up the field for his first reception of the season. Following a one-yard run up the middle, Iowa clocked its first timeout with 29 seconds left at the Northwestern 38-yard line.
- Two more Hawkeye runs gave Stevens another at-bat, this time straight on from 53 yards out. No foul pole this time; the kick was good, giving Iowa the lead, 10-7. The game-winner was a season-long and the sixth career make from at least 50 yards for the homerun hitter.
- A last Northwestern try came up short when Jermari Harris tackled the Wildcat receiver on a final attempt at a lateral play with one second remaining.
- K Drew Stevens’ 53-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining is the second game-winner of his career. Stevens hit the game-winner at Minnesota in 2022.
- Stevens’ FG tied a season-high set against Michigan State on Sept. 30. Stevens has six 50+ yard field goals in his career.
- RB Leshon Williams rushed for a team-high 79 yards.
- Williams eclipsed the 1,000 career rushing yards mark in the third quarter, becoming the 52nd player in program history to reach the milestone. He has 1,032 career rushing yards.
- QB Deacon Hill completed 10-of-15 attempts for 65 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to TE Addison Ostrenga in the third quarter. It is Hill’s third career touchdown pass, all coming to tight ends.
- TE Addison Ostrenga caught a 2-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter – the first touchdown of his career.
- WR Kaleb Brown’s 23-yard reception was his first catch as a Hawkeye and set up Stevens’ game-winning field goal.
- LB Jay Higgins had a team-high 12 tackles – his seventh game with 10 or more tackles this season.
- DL Anterio Thompson blocked a Northwestern punt in the third quarter – the second block of the season and his career – setting up Iowa’s first scoring drive in the third quarter.
- Iowa has two punt blocks and three overall blocks this season.
- Iowa’s defense limited Northwestern to 170 total yards and 12 first downs in the game.
- 170 yards (season-low) are the fewest allowed by Iowa’s defense since 2022 (Nevada – 151 yards).
- Iowa allowed a season-low 81 passing yards, the fewest since 2019 (Rutgers – 41 yards).
- The Hawkeyes limited Northwestern to 29 yards and two first downs in the first half.
- Northwestern had first-and-goal from the 2 in the fourth quarter. Iowa’s defense got a turnover on downs, stopping the Wildcats three straight runs from the half-yard line.
- Iowa’s defense has allowed one touchdown or less in seven of the first nine games of 2023 and 16 of the last 22 games.
- Iowa has allowed 14 or fewer points in 15 of its last 22 games.
- The Hawkeye defense has held its opponent to 400 yards or less in 23 consecutive games, the longest active streak nationally.
- Iowa won the toss and elected to receive. The Hawkeyes have played 310 games under head coach Kirk Ferentz. Iowa has opened the game on offense 227 times (146-81). The Hawkeyes have opened the game on defense 83 times (47-36).
Iowa returns home to face Rutgers on Nov. 11 at Kinnick Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. (CT) and the game will be televised on Big Ten Network.