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Home / New Hawks unload on ISU: Former subs help Iowa roll to 43-7 victory
IOWA CITY -
For the fourth straight year, it didn't rate so great.
The state's top football rivalry became a four-time mismatch Saturday as the Iowa Hawkeyes leveled Iowa State, 43-7, before a record Kinnick Stadium crowd of 67,700 fans.
Iowa dominated in much the same manner it had the past three years - rolling up big numbers while holding the Cyclones to small ones. In the past four meetings, Iowa has outscored ISU, 210-41.
Last year's understudies were this year's stars for an Iowa team that was unranked by Associated Press in preseason, but very well could land in the Top 20 this week.
Jim Mauro, a former walk-on receiver from West Des Moines, tied an Iowa record with three touchdown receptions - including one from wingback Robert Smith.
Quarterback Mark Vlasic, rising from the shadows of All-America Chuck Long, tossed two TD strikes to Mauro and finished with 286 yards through the air.
And Iowa's defense, with new starters at five positions, rendered Iowa State's running game non-existent and harassed quarterback Alex Espinoza with regularity.
Fry notched victory No. 53 at Iowa and became the school's winningest football coach. He has one more win than Forest Evanshevski totaled from 1952 to 1960.
"Based on the first game, I've gotta be very happy about this team," Fry said. "We made enough mistakes that we can still pop the whip and work hard. But we won the game in such a manner that we gained a lot of confidence, and that's the main thing.
"Obviously the score could have been considerably more if we'd have left the troops in. Like I said before the game, though, I hope Iowa State wins the rest of its games. They may have some problems, I don't know. They have their work cut out for them."
The bad news for Iowa State Coach Jim Criner began Friday night when he learned that Jeff Braswell, his star middle linebacker, was declared ineligible by ISU because of suspected violations committed during his recruitment.
Criner was cordial in defeat, but still sorely disappointed his team couldn't make a better game of it.
"What the Cyclones have to do is learn from this, realize that one game does not make a season," he said. "It's important that we learn from it and put it behind us and get ready to play our next game.
"We're going to be a much better football team than that score indicated today. We're going to have to play some games and prove it to a lot of people. Not only to ourselves, but to everybody that's watching us."
Criner said the key to defeat was Iowa's defense in general, and its line in particular. The Cyclones had minus-11 yards rushing - the fourth-best rushing defense "total" in Iowa history - and netted only 125 total yards.
Espinoza was sacked six times for minus-54 yards. Tackle Jeff Drost and nose guard Steve Thomas twice wrapped up the ISU senior behind the line.
"The defensive line dominated and controlled the football game," Criner said. "That was the biggest disappointment in the ballgame. It resulted in us leaving our defense on the field too long, not getting the field position that we needed.
"Iowa's defense controlled the line of scrimmage. It enabled them to blitz when they wanted to, play soft when they wanted to. Their defensive line was the difference."
Iowa's offense had 580 yards, the 11th-best total in school history and the most in the 34-game series with Iowa State.
Fry used three tight ends - Mike Flagg, Marv Cook and Craig Clark - frequently in the first half. The new formation was designed to pave the way for Iowa's runners, and it did.
Sophomore fullback David Hudson gained a career-high 120 yards and scored Iowa's second touchdown on a 1-yard dive. Hudson had 119 yards at halftime and carried only three times in the second half.
Starting running back Kevin Harmon had 34 yards on six carries in the first half before suffering a pulled hamstring. Fry said he expected Harmon to miss Saturday's game against Northern Illinois.
Vlasic completed 15 of 25 passes before being relieved by Chuck Hartlieb with 1:21 remaining in the third period. The 6-3 senior was intercepted for the first time in his career - by Dennis Gibson in the third quarter -but he didn't have many setbacks in his second career start.
"It's nice to get this under my belt and get a victory," Vlasic said. "Time will tell but I hope the rest of the season goes this well."
Thirteen different receivers caught balls for Iowa. Mauro and Smith had five catches each, Mauro for 149 yards and Smith for 92.
Rob Houghtlin kicked to perfection, making all three field goal tries and four extra point attempts.
He booted field goals of 32 and 46 yards in the first quarter to stake Iowa to a 6-0 lead.
Kyle Crowe's first career interception with 1:39 left in the first quarter gave Iowa the ball at State's 26. The Hawkeyes were assessed holding penalties on the first two plays.
But on second-and-27 from the ISU 43, Vlasic was afforded a lot of time and found Mauro breaking across the field. Mauro extended his arms and gathered in the pass for a touchdown.
Iowa made it 19-0 with 11:30 left in the half on Hudson's 1-yard plunge. Vlasic passed 22 yards to Smith and 26 to Mauro during the drive, but the crucial play was by backup fullback Richard Bass. On fourth-and-1 from the ISU 16, Bass raced 15 yards on a misdirection play. A two-point conversion pass was incomplete.
The Hawkeyes moved ahead 26-0 on a Fry "exotic." On second-and-7 from the ISU 17, Vlasic pitched left to Rick Bayless, who dished the ball to Smith on a reverse. Smith had an easy pass to a wide-open Mauro in the end zone.
About the only excitement for Iowa State at halftime was felt by its band. The Cyclones played and marched under the brief "direction" of rock star David Lee Roth.
Houghtlin's 37-yard field goal hiked the Hawkeye cushion to 29-0 with 10:38 left in the third quarter. Iowa State kicker Rick Frank, who missed a 52-yard field goal in the first half, was wide to the left on a 42-yarder later in the third period.
Four plays after Frank misfired, Mauro caught a 47-yard TD pass from Vlasic in the back of the end zone. "That was as perfect a pass as I've seen in a long time," Fry said.
The Iowa scoring was capped by Bayless, who plunged into the line, bounced outside and followed tight end Dave Murphy's downfield block for a 32-yard TD.
Iowa State averted a shutout when backup quarterback Brett Sadek fired a 21-yard scoring pass to junior college transfer Eddie Brown with 1:09 left. Ken Sandbloom recovered Iowa running back Chet Davis' fumble on the previous play.
Among the few bright spots for ISU were Frank's punting and Robbie Minor's catching. Frank averaged 42.6 yards on a dozen punts. Minor, withheld from competition last season due to disciplinary measures, was the Cyclones' top receiver with four catches for 66 yards.
While Iowa is hosting Northern Illinois Saturday, Iowa State will play its home opener against Indiana State.