Hawks get Sun-burned: 'Disappointing' season ends with clubbing by Sun Devils
EL PASO, TEXAS -
Tavian Banks sat on the Iowa bench and cried Wednesday afternoon at Sun Bowl Stadium while Arizona State players hugged their girlfriends and carried the championship trophy off the field.
Banks sat glumly and watched, tears streaming down his cheeks.
"It's just disappointing. Frustrating," the All-American tailback said later. "Our offense didn't show up again. Things have to change on offense."
It's too late now.
The Great Disappointment of 1997 ended with a 17-7 loss to Arizona State in the 64th Sun Bowl, leaving the Iowa Hawkeyes well short of their goals with a 7-5 final record.
The 16th-ranked Sun Devils dominated the Hawkeyes with a suffocating defense and powerful running game before 49,104 fans on a sunny day in west Texas. Iowa gained 30 yards in the first half and scored its only touchdown with 49 seconds left.
"Fifty-nine minutes of absolutely great football," Arizona State Coach Bruce Snyder gushed after his first bowl victory with the Sun Devils.
It was 60 minutes of agony for the Hawks.
Matt Sherman returned at quarterback for Iowa but had a miserable day, along with the rest of his teammates. Banks rushed for a season-low 52 yards, Tim Dwight got smothered on punt returns and the defense gave up huge chunks of turf.
"Today we came out second best because we were the second-best team on the field," Iowa Coach Hayden Fry said. "I'm
just amazed we didn't play better. I give Arizona State great credit for that."
Arizona State tailback Michael Martin shredded the Iowa defense for 169 yards and won the Sun Bowl MVP award. The Hawkeyes ranked 11th in the nation in rushing defense at 105.5 yards per game, but the Sun Devils (9-3) got 268.
"We just couldn't shut them down. I don't know why," Iowa defensive tackle Jared DeVries said. "Things didn't go our way."
The Sun Devils led the Pac-10 in rushing, but the Hawkeyes
apparently were not overly impressed with what they saw on tape.
"Arizona State ran the ball better than we thought they were capable of running," Fry said. "We were keying on the
run. That's what makes it amazing."
Martin praised his offensive line.
"They were pumped up," he said. "We've been getting dogged all week, that the Big Ten is a physical league and
they're a lot tougher than us and everything. The offensive line had a lot to prove and they did."
The Hawkeyes trailed only 10-0 at halftime despite getting three first downs and being outgained, 236-30. The Hawks had chances in the third quarter, but the ASU defense stopped them on 4th-and-2 and 4th-and-1 on consecutive possessions.
The Sun Devils scored with 31 seconds left in the third quarter on Martin's 1-yard run for a 17-0 lead.
Arizona State linebacker Pat Tillman, defensive tackle Jeremy Staat and an air-tight secondary kept the Hawkeyes spinning their wheels all afternoon.
"We were disappointed in the seven points they did put on the board," said Tillman, the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
"That shouldn't have happened."
Iowa averted a shutout when Randy Reiners found Ricchard Carter for a 26-yard touchdown play in the final minute.
Sherman started after missing the last five games of the regular season with a broken right thumb, but he was rusty and ineffective.
Fry yanked Sherman in the second quarter and inserted Reiners, but that didn't help and Sherman returned.
Sherman completed 8 of 22 passes for 120 yards. He was sacked four times and hounded many others. He slipped several times, tripped over a teammate, missed a few open receivers and didn't have time to find others.
"Just one of those days," he said. "I had some good
practices, and I was confident coming into the ballgame. For whatever reason things didn't work out. When guys were open I didn't have time, and it seemed like when I did have time our receivers struggled to get open."
Sherman said his hand and thumb felt fine.
"He had a tough day today, but he gave great effort," Fry
Iowa finished with 209 yards but got 87 on its final drive, which means the Hawks collected 122 yards the first 56 minutes.
"From the beginning we seemed to be uptight," Fry said.
"We made some mistakes early and gave them momentum. They kept us out of rhythm the entire ballgame."
Tillman said he expected the ASU defense to dominate the Hawkeyes, and they did.
"We were successful against Iowa because we had 11 guys
chasing them down after each play," he said. "I get paid
to tackle, and I go out and hit as hard and as often as
Iowa finished with 19 net yards on the ground. "We thought
stopping the running game was the key to their offense, and we went out and did it," Snyder said.
Steve Campbell, subbing for injured Ryan Kealy, gave Arizona State a steady game at quarterback. He completed five of 11 passes for 109 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown toss to Lenzie Jackson in the second quarter.
Jackson beat Iowa cornerback Ed Gibson for the catch, stepped past a sliding Eric Thigpen and cut past Gibson into the end zone.
Arizona State took a 10-0 lead on the final play of the first half on a 20-yard field goal by Robert Nycz.
"Coming into this game we knew we had to play the best game of our lives and I think we did," said Staat, the Pac-10 Defensive Lineman of the Year who had three sacks.
Banks carried 14 times for 52 yards. He got half his yardage on a 26-yard run in the first half. The Sun Devils stopped Iowa's passing game, too.
"It felt like they were all over us," said Dwight, who
caught three passes for 51 yards.
Dwight had four chances on punt returns but had nowhere to run.
"That guy (ASU punter Marcus Williams) hung the ball up there so long and the next thing I know there's four or five guys there. One against five weren't good odds."
Dwight led the nation in punt returns this season but got 16 tough yards on four returns Wednesday.