IOWA CITY -
Worries about Iowa's offense evaporated when the Hawkeyes exploded for 37 points in the third quarter.
Concern about Iowa's defense dissolved when the Hawks held Drake to a minus-36 yards rushing, a school record.
Result? Maybe a little more one-sided than expected: A 58-0 rout of the underdog Bulldogs in Kinnick Stadium Saturday before 66,135 fans in weather than matched Iowa's third-period performance for near perfection.
It didn't start out like that, however. Drake, which had split in two previous games, held the No. 5-rated Hawkeyes scoreless in the first quarter and trailed only 7-0 until Chuck Long passed to Scott Helverson in the end zone with two seconds left in the first half.
"I knew we would be slow out of the chute, because we haven't scrimmaged since last spring," said an ebullient Coach Hayden Fry. "But I didn't expect us to be that slow. However, you have to compliment Drake for that.
"I was impressed with our defense. I don't care who you play, if you come up with a goose egg on the scoreboard, you're playing some good defense. The momentum was set by our defense."
The questions and answers flew quickly after that.
Did Fry know his defense had set a school record by holding Drake to a minus-36?
"I didn't know that, but it's good news," he replied. "However, I'm sorry for Drake and Coach Chuck Shelton. He's a super human being. We had bigger bodies and more experience, so I knew it was just a matter of time before we wore them away."
Has Fry ever coached a team before that scored 37 points in one quarter?
"No, but I coached a team that scored 31 points in a 10-minute stretch of the Freedom Bowl last season," the coach grinned, meaning Iowa's 55-17 win over Texas.
Hmm, Saturday Iowa got 37 points in a 9:38 segment of the third quarter.
Most of the graduation losses for Iowa were on the defense, but the offense certainly introduced some new faces, too. Five players scored their first points for the Hawkeyes in the gusher of eight touchdowns, one field goal and seven extra points.
Several very familiar names launched the scoring, however. Chuck Long, in the Hunt for the Heisman, completed 21 of 31 passes for 248 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Ronnie Harmon, something of a reborn All-America candidate himself after his broken-leg recovery, scored Iowa's first two TDs in the big third period on runs of two and six yards. The Bulldogs' tough defense limited him to 31 yards on 10 carries in the first half, but when it was over he had averaged better than four yards, netting 61 yards on 15 carries.
The third candidate, Larry Station, a consensus All-American linebacker last season, led Iowa's defense with seven solo tackles. Four of them were sacks for 18 yards. Station led Iowa's tacklers in each of his first three seasons.
Station also got the game's only interception. A pass thrown by Ed Cheatham, first of four Drake quarterbacks, bounced off Iowa linebacker George Davis and Station returned it 25 yards.
Helverson, senior wingback who came to Iowa as a walk-on, also scored two touchdowns. He was an equal-opportunity receiver, catching one TD pass from Long and one from Mark Vlasic, the No. 1 replacement. Helverson led Iowa with seven catches for 88 yards.
The new scoring faces? Craig Clark, last year's special teams standout, opened the scoring by catching Long's six-yard pass with 10:37 to go in the second period, just when some Iowa fans were beginning to wonder if they had tarried too long at the tailgate well before the game.
Other first-time TD scores were: Kevin Harmon, Ronnie's younger brother who dove headlong for the final two yards; David Hudson, the Waxahachie, Texas, product who contributed a 10-yarder; and Rick Bayless, last season's late-bloomer who got the final marker on a one-yard plunge.
The other points were toed in soccer-style by Rob Houghtlin, the transfer from Miami (Ohio), who took over where Tommy Nichol left off. Nichol was — and still is — Iowa's all-time leading scorer before finishing his four-year career in 1984.
Houghtlin was successful on one of two field goal tries, and he hit seven of eight extra points. Had he made the other one, he would have tied a one-game school record.
"Rob did a fine job," said Fry. "I was impressed with his kicking. As he gained confidence, he started booming the kickoffs out of the end zone. Dave Kostrubala did a super job on the punts (41-yard average) as well. Kosto is just going to continue to improve."
There were no complaints that Iowa poured it on. Indeed, the Hawkeyes used at least 65 players, including four quarterbacks, and scored only once in the final period.
Sub quarterbacks Chuck Hartlieb and Jay Hess seemed to be calling pass plays, but they never threw the ball and instead ran with it themselves.
Indeed, much of Drake's woe came from self-inflicted wounds. In Iowa's spate of five touchdowns and a field goal in the third period, five times the Hawkeyes started inside Drake territory thanks to fumbles, penalties or short punts.
"Hayden Fry and I spent a little extra time talking after the game," said Drake's Shelton. "I told him his team was the best executing team I've seen for an opening game. I thought Iowa executed every phase of the game very well.
"Hayden and I have gotten along very well, and have had good respect for each other for a long time, and nothing that happened in this game changed any of that."
It still was Drake's worst loss since a 63-0 avalanche by North Texas State in the final game of the 1976 season. The North Texas State coach then? Hayden Fry. Drake's defensive coordinator and assistant head coach in that game? Chuck Shelton.
Iowa seemed to have one serious injury, and it came at a position already shallow in depth. Bruce Gear, starting defensive end, was helped out after trying for a sideline tackle on Drake's first offensive play. Fry said he suffered a knee injury and would be lost for "a few weeks."
The Hawkeyes, who had to scramble for non-conference games this season when contests with Kansas and Miami were scratched, will play Northern Illinois at Kinnick next Saturday. Northern opened with a 17-0 victory over Western Michigan and lost at Wisconsin Saturday, 38-17.Drake, now 1-2, hosts Southern Illinois next Saturday in Des Moines.