Final: When the O-line wins the race -- Iowa 27, ISU 21
Iowa's offensive line plows, Hawkeyes hang on in Ames
AMES -- This was an offensive lineman's game. From the 15-play drive that was a field-long headlock to the run for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, Iowa's offensive line dominated.
The Hawkeyes (2-1) rushed 60 times for 218 yards and enjoyed the mad dash to the Cy-Hawk Trophy, fending off a late Iowa State (0-2) charge, 27-21, before 56,800 fans Saturday night at Jack Trice Stadium.
Running back Mark Weisman rushed 35 times for 145 yards and quarterback Jake Rudock threw two TD passes to help the Hawkeyes snap a two-game losing streak in the intrastate series.
Offensive tackle Brandon Scherff won the race to the Cy-Hawk Trophy. Scherff and tackle Brett Van Sloten somehow sent wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley the wrong way and made it an O-line celebration.
Kind of like the game.
"Scherff is faster than I am, so he beat me," Van Sloten said. "I was top 20, but I knew I wasn't going to be the first one with the guys I was running with."
This was an O-lineman's game from beginning to end for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa's scoring could've been timed by the movement of glaciers. The Hawkeyes put together a pair of 15-play touchdown drives and added 10- and nine-play drives for points.
The quintessential drive came at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Iowa held a comfortable 20-7 lead after trading big-play TDs with Iowa State. It was still a game with the Hawkeyes holding a 13-point lead and having given up one broken play for a 67-yard TD.
Iowa had first down at its 23 and just threw the game into headlock mode.
Running with two tight ends and a fullback, Iowa chugged down the field. It was inside and outside zone runs and pure power football. Iowa ran that heavy formation in 13 of a 15-play scoring drive and capped it off with Rudock's 1-yard sneak to make the score 27-7.
"That was the flow of the game," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "It wasn't like a master plan or anything like that, it was just the flow of the game. It was working a little bit, so we wanted to stay with it."
And stayed and stayed and stayed.
The 60 rushing attempts tied for the most in a game under Ferentz. The last time Iowa had 60 carries was Sept. 4, 2004 against Kent State. Iowa ran 83 offensive plays for 378 yards. The Hawkeyes have taken 80-plus snaps in all three games this year, the first time they've done that under Ferentz.
This was the first time an Iowa running back has gone 30 carries in back-to-back games since Albert Young did it in 2005. The 13 runs in the fourth-quarter TD drive, which ate a monster 7:38 off the clock, even impressed Weisman.
"That's awesome," said Weisman, who's rushed for more than 100 yards in all three games and now has seven for his career. "It's physical play. We came into this game and wanted to run the ball. I think we did it pretty well."
Iowa enjoyed a 38:03 to 21:57 advantage in time of possession, including 10:24 to 4:36 in the fourth quarter.
"You just feel comfortable with the O-line," Rudock said. "I told the line a couple of times, 'Hey, if we can ride you to the end zone, if we have to hand it off a hundred times, we're going to do it.' "
Down 13-0 in the third quarter, the Cyclones buzzed Iowa with a 2:32 drive that quarterback Sam Richardson finished with a 26-yard TD to wide receiver Quenton Bundrage. Bundrage slipped through cornerback B.J. Lowery's grip for a 67-yard TD to pull ISU within 13-7 with 5:28 left in the quarter.
Lowery wiped the slate clean after the Cyclones recovered an onside kick after pulling within 27-14.
On second-and-10 from Iowa's 46, Lowery leaped and made a one-handed interception on a pass intended for Jarvis West. That gave Iowa a first down with 4:13 left.
"That's the life of a cornerback," Lowery said with a laugh.
Iowa was held to a three-and-out. Iowa State had first down at ISU's 41 with 3:46 left. Richardson hooked up with Bundrage again with 2:36 left in the game to make the score 27-21. Richardson finished 22 of 39 for 260 yards, three TDs and two interceptions. Bundrage finished with seven catches for 146 yards and three TDs.
“A loss is loss, first and foremost," Iowa State safety Jacques Washington said. "But we did fight back and at the end of the game . . . we just ran out of time.”
Iowa recovered this onside kick -- tight end Ray Hamilton redeemed himself after whiffing on the first one -- went three-and-out and ISU got the ball with seven seconds. The lateral was stuffed and a couple of O-linemen won the race to the Cy-Hawk Trophy.
Senior linebacker James Morris was finishing business when the trophy run started. He helped make the final tackle on the Cyclones' lateral desperation. He looked up and knew the race was a lost cause.
"I was the furthest away," Morris said. "I just looked at [defensive tackle] Carl [Davis], there was nothing we could do. To make up for it, we got to carry it off the field."That's OK, it was the O-line's night, beginning to end.