INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
Independence nearly matc ... »
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PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Josey Jewell revealed something in the postgame that should have everyone concerned.
OK, maybe don’t worry about the junior linebacker’s mustache. If you have a hand in every tackle on a goal-line stand, you’re allowed any funky facial hair you want.
With Rutgers owning a first-and-goal from Iowa’s 3, Jewell spearheaded a four-down stop near the end of the first half that preserved a scoreless game and, if you believe in these sorts of things, gave the Iowa offense the platform for a 99-yard TD drive.
The Iowa defense was responsible, basically, for a 14-point swing in a game that saw just 21 points total, with Iowa leaving High Point Solutions Stadium victorious at 14-7.
“The defense did a great job knowing our fits on those four plays,” Jewell said. “Everybody did their job.”
Rutgers subbed at quarterback on first down, with dual-threat Tylin Oden replacing Chris Laviano on first down. Oden ran a read option inside and found Jewell, defensive end Anthony Nelson and defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson.
Oden tried it again on second down with Jewell and free safety Brandon Snyder stopping him for no gain. Laviano went back into the game on third down and was tackled for a 1-yard loss by Jewell and defensive end Parker Hesse.
“It wasn’t pretty today, but that was an excellent effort by our guys, digging in there and getting the ball back,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “They went for it. We got the ball back, that was huge. And then for the offense to respond also. It was good team football. We haven’t played enough of that, good team complimentary type football.”
On fourth-and-goal from the 3, Laviano ran an option to the wide side with wide receiver Jawuan Harris as his pitch option. Cornerback Desmond King played between Laviano and Harris to string the play out. Linebacker Bo Bower forced the play to the sideline.
Josey Jewell’s mustache finished off Laviano as he stretched the ball out just short of the goal line.
“They went to the weak side. I wasn’t expecting that,” Jewell said. “You just have to react to the plays. You’re not going to see all the plays you see in practice, but you have to be ready for anything.”
King didn’t want to give up the pitch and didn’t want to let Laviano have an opening into the end zone. In the end, he made a move to force Laviano to make his move.
“The guy was doing a cat and mouse with him,” Rutgers head coach Chris Ash said. “He wasn’t sure if the other guy was playing a quarterback or playing a pitch. At the end of the day, the guy fell in on the quarterback and made the tackle, but the guy was in no man’s land and wasn’t sure what he was trying to play it.”
The Iowa offense took this positive and made it into a super-triple mega positive with a 99-yard drive that gave the Hawkeyes their first successful two-minute drill of the season and a 7-0 halftime lead.
Beathard finished the drive with a 36-yard TD to tight end George Kittle, who faked a block for a wide receiver screen to Matt VandeBerg and then ran wide open down the middle of the field.
The 99-yard drive was nice, but Beathard didn’t think it was all systems go for the offense, which only had two drives of more than 34 yards against the Scarlet Knights.
“No, definitely not,” Beathard said when asked if the 99-yarder was the cure. “We have to find a sense of urgency with drives. When we have a decent play, we can’t shoot ourselves in the foot.”