116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Iowa’s offense got more practice, and it was needed after the past two weeks.
Unlike the previous games, Iowa only had one defensive turnover to work off of Saturday, and while Tyler Goodson ran all over the Golden Flashes’ defense, the passing game remained a concern for the better part of the first half, but quarterback Spencer Petras finished off with a 25-of-36 performance for 209 yards. Goodson ran for a career-high 153 yards and three touchdowns on 22 attempts.
Iowa sealed an otherwise-lackluster offensive passing game in the fourth quarter when Nico Ragaini caught a 48-yard pass by Petras to put Iowa within 2 yards of a touchdown. Goodson hammered in the final nail 30-7 to give No. 5 Iowa (3-0) an underwhelming 30-7 victory over Kent State (1-2).
“If anybody’s watching, we’ll probably be (ranked) about 15th this week, based on what I saw,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz told BTN after the game. “The good news is we can get a lot better in a lot of areas. We still have a lot of things to clean up.”
A booing crowd rumbled the stadium for much of the third quarter following questionable calls by the officials. First was a roughing the passer call on defensive lineman Logan Lee and second, a clear catch by Tyrone Tracy Jr. that would’ve given Iowa a first down was overturned via video review, forcing the Hawkeyes to punt instead.
“You’ve got to play with the call, I thought I caught it, the coaches thought I caught it, the crowd thought I caught it, but he overturned it,” Tracy said. “They didn’t tell me anything, they just said it was incomplete. I don’t know what else I could do to make sure that it is complete — I made a move, got tackled with the ball in my hands.”
The roughing the passer penalty moved the Golden Flashes from the Kent State 48 to Iowa’s 37, but fortunately for Iowa, linebacker Jestin Jacobs forced a fumble at the goal line to prevent the Golden Flashes from scoring in the third quarter.
Riley Moss recovered the fumble for a touchback, which set up a lengthy, six-minute drive ending in Goodson’s 35-yard rush around the left for a touchdown and 23-7 lead.
It seemed the Iowa offense was waiting for the caffeine boost it needed to get things rolling in the first half. Redshirt freshman Lukas Van Ness came back from that coffee run to flatten a scrambling Dustin Crum, who was chasing the ball after a high snap. Iowa notched its first score off a safety to put it ahead 2-0 with 9:13 left in the first. Van Ness finished the game as one of the Hawkeyes’ top defensive players with seven tackles, two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.
Piggybacking off that drive was Goodson, who took an outside pitch 46 yards down field for a score to make it 9-0.
Unlike previous weeks, Iowa’s secondary struggled against the Kent State “FlashFAST“ offense, especially when it came to the deep ball.
Crum flung a 48-yard pass to Keyshuun Abram to put the Golden Flashes in field goal range. Then Abram’s 23-yard touchdown reception put Kent State back in the game with 5:00 left in the first, 9-7.
That wouldn’t be Abram’s last spark. The fifth-year senior challenged Moss, putting together a six-reception, 138-yard performance by the end of the game that included another 45-yard reception in the second quarter.
“My eyes got caught in the backfield, I was ready for a three-step hitch again like I had the first weekend,” Moss said. “They caught me on it, read my bluff and I was able to get them out, but it’s about how you come back from bad plays is what makes you a good player. I think personally, as a defense, we did that, especially in the second half.”
Iowa junior Terry Roberts came in for Moss a few times later in the second half, tallying a pass breakup on a pivotal fourth-and-8 in the third quarter and adding three tackles. He was also instrumental on special teams, downing Tory Taylor’s punt to pin the Golden Flashes on the 8-yard line in the first quarter and eliminating chances for return yardage in the second half.
But Iowa struggled to move the ball offensively for much of the first half.
Ivory Kelly-Martin’s fumble ended Iowa’s drive following Kent State’s touchdown. Kelly-Martin fumbled one more time on Iowa’s next offensive series, but a recovery by tight end Sam LaPorta salvaged possession.
“I just got done telling him (Kelly-Martin) to keep his chin up and hang in there and you’ll be fine,” Ferentz said. “He’s a top-quality guy, he got voted as a captain this week, he does so much for our team beyond running the football. He’s just got to work through it.”
Redshirt freshman Gavin Williams came in the game, catching an 11-yard pass up the middle on a second-and-11 to invigorate a lengthy drive. LaPorta caught a 5-yard touchdown pass to pull Iowa ahead 16-7.
“For me that was one of the positives, not Ivory’s challenges, but I thought Gavin did a really nice job,” Ferentz said. “I was a little bit reluctant, but this experience today and what he did is going to help him move forward.”
The 95-yard, 22-play drive soaked up 8 minutes and 38 seconds of game time, leaving the Golden Flashes without much to work with to close out the first half.
“That was a really good drive, you saw the run game, the pass game, everything showed up,” Petras said. “Almost every game there’s some wrinkles they’re going to throw at us and it takes a little bit of time to sort through them and figure out which plays are going to be best for us.”
Kent State’s “FlashFAST” offense was unable to to drive much farther than it did in the third when it fumbled at the goal line, so Iowa comfortably rode out the win.
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