Dazzling Dwight: Hawk senior does it all in 62-0 rout of Indiana
IOWA CITY -
Tim Dwight and Randy Reiners come from the same school, but we don't just mean the University of Iowa. They share the same joie de vivre, the same reckless abandon, the same crowd-pleasing ability.
That's their school: The School of Let's Have Fun on a Football Field.
Dwight, Reiners and the rest of the 18th-ranked Hawkeyes made it fun for themselves and 69,185 homecoming fans Saturday with a 62-0 pasting of Indiana on a gray, chilly day at Kinnick Stadium.
Dwight, the incomparable senior from Iowa City, put on another dazzling display with a 92-yard punt return, a 64-yard pass and a 29-yard reception — all for touchdowns — as the Hawkeyes snapped their two-game skid and got rolling again.
Reiners, an irrepressible sophomore from Fort Dodge, made his first start in place of the injured Matt Sherman at quarterback and quickly got the fans on his side with two TD passes and some daredevil runs, one of which produced a 7-yard score on a head-first dive over a defensive back into the end zone.
Reiners hit eight of 15 passes for 148 yards and ran six times for 22 yards, including a 15-yard bootleg that helped ignite the Hawkeyes (5-2, 2-2) in the second quarter.
"He brings an extra spark to the team, I think," Dwight said. "Randy can scramble a lot better (than Sherman). I think he got the fans into that. They like to see him putting his head in there. That was one more plus he brings to the ballclub. He's got speed and great ability to do that."
Dwight and Reiners have similar personalities.
"Unfortunately," Fry joked, but he wouldn't change a thing.
"I'm not up to his par, I'll tell you that much," Reiners said. "Yeah, we like to get after it. We like to get that extra yard, get down and get people excited."
Dwight thinks the Hawkeyes would have won 62-0 with Sherman at quarterback, which is probably true, but U of I fans seemed ready for a change after successive losses to Ohio State and Michigan.
Iowa started slowly in the first quarter but eventually rolled to its most lopsided Big Ten victory since a 64-0 conquest of Northwestern in 1981.
Sherman watched from the sidelines, his injured right hand covered by a huge mitten that looked like an oven glove. He counseled Reiners between series, helping the Fort Dodge Flash make a fairly smooth transition to the starting lineup.
"I started out a little shaky," said Reiners, who gave himself only a passing grade. "I think I played OK."
OK was plenty good enough as the Hawkeyes unveiled their big-play personality again and stung the Hoosiers with long touchdown passes, interception returns, punt returns and runs from scrimmage.
"As I told Randy, he's going to have a great game next week because he got all of his mistakes out of the way this week," Coach Hayden Fry said. "Randy made mistakes, as we anticipated, but he also has a lot of ability and made some big
plays for us. I think he'll be much better the next game, because he got the experience he needed."
Iowa hosts 22nd-ranked Purdue next Saturday.
Reiners actually made a mistake on his 7-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He forget to check with the sideline for the proper formation, so instead of eliminating a defensive back with motion, he had to challenge IU's Michael McGrath at the goal line.
Fry talked to Reiners after that one. "I said, 'Well, you
scored. I'll forgive you this time,"' Fry said, smiling.
This game resembled Iowa's non-conference romps over UNI,
Tulsa and Iowa State, except that tailback Tavian Banks had a fairly quiet day with 21 carries for 106 yards and two scores, one on a 19-yard screen pass from Reiners. Banks, the nation's leading rusher, had 35 yards after three quarters before padding his stats early in the final stanza.
That screen pass from Reiners to Banks, after an interception by defensive tackle Jared DeVries, gave the Hawks a 7-0 lead, but they ended the first quarter with 27 yards and one first down. It got better.
Dwight caught a 29-yard touchdown pitch from Reiners in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead, then Dwight turned quarterback himself on a reverse and hit Damon Gibson in stride for a 64-yard score and 21-0 bulge.
"It was just a lucky throw," Dwight claimed.
The Hawkeyes exploded for 41 points in the second half to keep the Hoosiers (1-7, 0-5) winless in the Big Ten. Indiana never got closer than the 22-yard line and extended its touchdown drought to four games and 18 quarters.
Matt Bowen, Iowa's nickel back on passing situations, began the second-half fun with a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown, made possible when Jon LaFleur rushed quarterback Jay Rodgers and got in his face.
Dwight, one of the top punt return specialists in Big Ten history, unleashed the third-longest punt return in school annals when he caught Alan Sutkowski's boot at the 8-yard line, circled left, got a key block from Kerry Cooks, sped up the sideline, cut to the middle and outraced all the other Hoosiers for a 92-yard touchdown.
Dwight stood quietly in the end zone after his magnificent return, looking at the pompom girls and the fans, until his teammates arrived to congratulate him.
"I don't like to do a whole bunch of showboating," he said. "But yeah, it was nice. Real nice."
That made it 35-zip, then Reiners made it 42-0 zip with his 7-yard run and Banks made it 49-0 zip with a 1-yard run, capping a 61-yard drive with 11:32 left in the fourth quarter. That was it for the offensive starters, but not the end of the fireworks.
J.P. Lange, a walk-on defensive back from Hartland, Wis.,
intercepted a pass and scampered 60 yards for a touchdown with 1:48 left. Indiana fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Rob Thein finished the scoring with a 30-yard burst with seven seconds left.
"I hate for the score to be that high," Fry said.
"Cam Cameron and the Indiana players are real nice people. But you can't tell them to fall down on the ball."
Cameron, a rookie head coach, saw his team suffer the most
one-sided defeat in this 61-game series that began in 1912.
"I talked with Hayden after the game," Cameron said.
"No, I have no problem with the score. He had his team doing everything but kneeling down. We just let 'em score."