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IOWA CITY — The lights blazed Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium. It really was a gorgeous setting for the first Cy-Hawk game under the lights here since 2002, one of those nights you write songs about.
Kinnick provided a stage for performers to perform. C.J. Beathard, simply put, is a performer.
Iowa’s offense was in tune all night. The No. 10 Hawkeyes (2-0) scored four touchdowns in their first five drives, including three TD passes from Beathard, and ran away from Iowa State (0-2), 42-3, before 70,585 fans. It was the biggest victory in the series since Iowa won 63-20 at Ames in 1997.
Last month, Beathard’s brother Tucker, a country music star, lit up Kinnick under the lights. C.J. answered that and then some with a picture-perfect night.
Beathard’s night ended after one drive in the fourth quarter. He finished 19 of 28 for 235 yards and three TDs. But really, Beathard and the Hawkeyes turned out the lights in the first half.
After a sleepy first possession, Beathard and VandeBerg hooked up for a 25-yard gain on a second-and-9. Three plays later, Beathard fed tight end George Kittle a 9-yard TD pass for a 7-0 lead.
One of three personal foul penalties called against the Cyclones helped move the Hawkeyes next drive. Linebacker Kane Seeley was called for a late hit on running back Akrum Wadley, who, on the next play, ran wide open out of the backfield and Beathard delivered an easy 26-yard score for a 14-0 lead.
The Cyclones had a first-and-goal from Iowa’s 7 after a 30-yard pass from QB Joel Lanning to wide receiver Allen Lazard. The drive stalled with help from back-to-back sacks from defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson and defensive end Anthony Nelson. Cole Netten put ISU on the board with a 31-yard field goal.
On first down on the next drive, VandeBerg took a reverse for a 25-yard gain to Iowa State’s 41. He would finish this drive with his prettiest play.
On a second-and-10 from ISU’s 12, Beathard had a ton of time to throw and found VandeBerg crossing through the back of the end zone late in the play. Beathard put one of those passes that only his guy could touch. With ISU defensive back D’Andre Payne’s back turned, VandeBerg turned and stabbed the ball out of the air with both hands for the TD, giving the Hawkeyes a 21-3 lead with 10:15 left in the second quarter.
The Cyclones were called for a pair of personal fouls on Iowa’s next drive. Linebacker Reggan Northrup was called for an illegal hands to the face. Defensive end Jhaustin Thomas was hit with a facemask on what would’ve been a sack on third-and-6 from the 9.
Through early in the fourth quarter, the Cyclones had nine penalties for 68 yards. No, that did not help.
The bailouts were cashed in two plays later, when Beathard pushed a QB sneak across the goal line from the 1. Iowa capped the half when defensive end Matt Nelson collected a sack on the final play and the Hawkeyes literally ran up the tunnel with a 28-3 halftime lead.
Beathard’s half went 11 of 14 for 153 yards and three TDs. That’s a pass efficiency of 241.08. That’s a good number. You can work with that.
VandeBerg’s first half went five catches for 89 yards and the TD. He added 25 yards on the reverse. VandeBerg kept that rolling in the second half and had seven catches for 129 yards through three quarters.
The Cyclones were woozy. The knockout blows came from the Hawkeyes in the third quarter.
Running back Akrum Wadley scored from 3 yards for a 35-3 lead with 3:18 left in the third. After outside linebacker Ben Niemann picked off Lanning, running back LeShun Daniels broke a cutback run for a 43-yard TD and a 42-3 lead at 1:33 in the third.
With the rush, Daniels had 112 yards on 15 carries, his third career 100-yard game. The Hawkeyes had 7.3 yards on 54 plays at this point. And they would again have the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the second consecutive season.
Iowa went into the game without starting center James Daniels, who suffered an injury during the week. He was replaced by sophomore Lucas LeGrand. LeGrand had a bad snap in the first half that caused a false start. Referee Mike Defee kind of called him out on this, saying over the stadium mic for all to hear, “False start on everybody but the center.”
Ouch, man. Harsh. But, you know, that was about the worst thing that happened to the Hawkeyes under the lights Saturday night.