116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — The Robot threw to The Matrix. Sparks flew. A stadium deflated. And in the end, no one seemed to know where the trophy was.
Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley is the robot. Not an official nickname, but that's how Iowa offensive lineman Sean Welsh described his demeanor during the Hawkeyes' frantic fourth quarter comeback.
'He's just robotic in his approach, his operation,' Welsh said in the relative calm of the Jacobson Building weightroom.
Running back Akrum Wadley is The Matrix. The quicksilver he showed on a 46-yard touchdown catch that brought Iowa back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit needs a gold frame.
Iowa State's offense needed a gold frame. The Cyclones' defense had the Hawkeyes counting lights in the third quarter. Then, Iowa scored a late reversal. A wrestling metaphor sort of works here in this state and this game.
This game was good to the last clench.
Stanley's 5-yard touchdown pass to true freshman wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette came with Iowa State cornerback Brian Peavy coiling on him nearly as the ball arrived. Smith-Marsette was barely inches over the goal line and Iowa was less than inches better than the Cyclones, 44-41, before 61,500 fans Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.
'We threw our jabs, they threw their jabs,' said Wadley, whose 46-yard score tied the game 38-38 with 1:09 left. 'As long as we keep coming forward, that's the most important thing.'
With 190 yards from scrimmage, including a career-high 28 carries for 118 yards, let's allow Wadley to pick the metaphor.
After Iowa's defense gave up a metric mile of offense to Iowa State and quarterback Jacob Park, the Hawkeyes got the stop they needed when ISU wide receiver Hakeem Butler dropped a third-down pass in overtime. The Cyclones settled for Garrett Owens' 30-yard field goal attempt.
'You have to understand it's your last shot,' linebacker Josey Jewell said. 'This is it, so you better come up with some plays.'
After missing what likely would've been four long touchdown passes on overthrows, Stanley hit his last shot. Remember Smith-Marsette from last week? He had one touch and it was a fumble.
Weequahic (N.J.) High School grads accounted for four Iowa touchdowns. Wadley and Smith-Marsette went to the Newark high school. Wadley was like a proud big brother.
'Jersey, man,' Wadley said. 'He's really resilient. He's a tough guy, has a lot of heart. How he bounced back from last week, he kind of hated himself, but he's a strong-minded guy.'
Strong-minded, sure-handed and, after Saturday, you can probably check off clutch.
'It shows that they believe in me,' Smith-Marsette said. 'Last week I had a minor setback, but this week I came back and they showed they believed in me and I took advantage of it.'
Weequahic scored from 46 yards and then from 5. It's pronounced WEEK-way by the way. Maybe that's some sort of Jersey slang for what Wadley did during his 46-yarder. This was a checkdown pass that traveled maybe 8 yards in the air. Three Iowa State defenders had hands and/or arms on and/or around him.
'On the big play in the fourth quarter I missed that tackle on Wadley,' ISU linebacker Joel Lanning said. 'It's probably one of the biggest tackles of my career that I'll have. He was my guy and I just let him get outside. He made a play.'
The numbers Stanley (333 yards, five TDs) and Park (347 yards, four TDS) put up were historic. For Iowa, it was the most prolific QB output since 1987. For the Cyclones, it was Park's career high for TD passes and the first ISU quarterback with four TDs in a game since 2013.
'It was do or die, that's kind of what it got down to,' Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. 'The guys executed. Players win the games, they win them and lose them. The guys executed under pretty tough circumstances.'
Iowa led 21-10 after a 94-yard drive in the third quarter (Iowa had three TD drives of 90-plus yards and an 89-yarder). Iowa State struck back with TDs on three consecutive drives, with running back David Montgomery's 7-yard run giving the Cyclones a 31-21 lead with 11:46 left in the game.
'At the end of it, they made those different plays at the end to win the game,' Iowa State (1-1) coach Matt Campbell said. 'That's really what it comes down to, some critical situation moments that they were able to make that play and we didn't.'
The Hawkeyes (2-0) held on to the Cy-Hawk Trophy for a third consecutive season. They joined hands to march across the field to claim it. And then they realized that it already was on their sideline.
'That was a team effort,' Jewell said. 'We all just yelled and said, 'The trophy's over here.' We always thought they put it on the home side. That was a little adjustment we had to make.'
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