Iowa Football

Game Report: Northwestern Wildcats 21, Iowa Hawkeyes 20

Iowa hasn't scored a second-half TD in last 5 Big Ten games

Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Chauncey Golston (57) leaves the field with teammates after their 21-20 loss to Northwes
Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Chauncey Golston (57) leaves the field with teammates after their 21-20 loss to Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Northwestern won 21-20. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — A closer look at Northwestern’s 21-20 win over Iowa at Kinnick Stadium.

Turning Point

Iowa squandered a 17-0 lead and trailed 21-20 in the fourth quarter, but wrested momentum when Hawkeye safety Jack Koerner intercepted a pass at the Northwestern 41 and returned it to the 36 midway through the final period.

Just three plays later, however, Spencer Petras’ pass to tight end Sam LaPorta went off the fingertips of LaPorta’s left hand and immediately into the grasp of Wildcats freshman safety Brandon Joseph for an interception with 6:49 left.

It was Joseph’s second pick of the second half. His first, returned 18 yards to the Iowa 35 in the third quarter, set up the touchdown drive that put his team up for good.

Joseph drifted left across the field and jumped in front of Iowa tight end Shaun Beyer for an easy pick on his first one. He is a redshirt freshman, by the way. He comes from College Station, Texas. Football country. He sure made two big football plays in his second collegiate contest.

Iowa had two more possessions after Joseph’s second pick, but failed to score. On the Hawkeyes’ last drive, it was again an interception that doomed spelled curtains for the home team. Petras’ pass to LaPorta was high and hard, and not very catchable for the tight end. It caromed to linebacker Blake Gallagher, who had his fifth career pick.



By The Numbers

1 — Petras threw his first career touchdown pass in the first quarter. He threw his first career interception in the third quarter. Two more picks followed that.

4 — Northwestern has won four of its last five games against the Hawkeyes.

5 — Iowa hasn’t scored a second-half touchdown in its last five Big Ten games.

9 The Hawkeyes’ extended their streak of games with interceptions to nine.

9 — Keith Duncan of Iowa has made his last nine field goal tries, four of them this season.

49 — Iowa’s Tory Taylor averaged 49 yards on four punts.

89 — Northwestern’s touchdown with 11:40 left in the second quarter was its first score against Iowa in its last 89 minutes and 7 seconds against the Hawkeyes.

102 — The Wildcats had 102 of their 143 rushing yards in the second quarter. They had 64 yards on 35 carries against Iowa last year in their 20-0 loss in Evanston.



If this isn’t a disturbing trend for Iowa, there is no such thing: The Hawkeyes haven’t scored a second-half touchdown in their last five Big Ten games.

That’s 10 quarters. One hundred-and-fifty minutes.

The first three of those five games were Iowa wins by one score. However, the last two have been defeats. This year’s defeats.

Disconcerting signals is one of the rarer of college football penalties. It is called when a defense is charged with simulating the offense’s snap.

Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon was called for that 5-yard penalty at a key moment in the third quarter when Northwestern had a third-and-3 at the Iowa 17. Five plays later, the Wildcats scored a go-ahead touchdown.

Nixon was stellar, otherwise, with 11 tackles. Three were for losses. He had 1.5 sacks.

Iowa has an All-America placekicker in Duncan. He made his first two field goals Saturday, the second from 47 yards, to extend his personal streak to nine in a row.

When the Hawkeyes had a 52-yarder to try with two seconds left in the first half, though, they went with kickoff specialist Caleb Shudak, a senior from Council Bluffs and the son of former Iowa State kicker Jeff Shudak. Duncan’s career long is 49 yards.

Shudak’s first collegiate field goal try hit the right upright and caromed back.

He entered the NCAA’s transfer portal last year, but stayed put, and was granted a scholarship last spring. He was terrific at kickoffs last season, and has continued to be that in 2020.

Twenty-nine Iowa players knelt during the playing of the national anthem. Hawkeyes Coach Kirk Ferentz stood with his hand on the shoulder of freshman running back Leshon Williams, who knelt.


It’s not news that things are different this season, but it still seemed odd not to have family members hug their brothers/sons/grandsons as the Hawkeyes left their buses and entered Kinnick Stadium.

The families could only shout and wave from afar as their loved ones filed into the stadium. But in a way, it was a little more intimate than normal because the general fan population wasn’t among them, though there were pockets of fans who stood on the other side of Melrose Avenue to wave at the players as the buses reached their destination.

Injury Report

Iowa was without linebacker Jack Campbell (mono) and defensive lineman Austin Schulte a second-straight week. No apparent pregame injuries/illnesses appeared to affect anyone who was slated to start Saturday. Linebacker Steh Benson played after a one-game absence, starting at middle linebacker.

It didn’t appear any Hawkeyes suffered injuries of note during the game.

Social Summaries

(Via Twitter)

“Come on, put some touch on the ball.” — @Mizraim00

“50 passes and 22 runs is not Iowa football, need a better game plan." — @HawksBestie

“If it’s broke, FIX IT.” — @kmheggen

“Not Iowa Football.” @KJSL8R

“Basketball and wrestling season are coming!” — @pastor_goose

Up Next

The Hawkeyes host Michigan State (1-1) Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN. The Spartans, 24-point underdogs, won at Michigan Saturday, 27-24, to suddenly become the most-improved team in America. They lost 38-27 at home to Rutgers the week before.

MSU quarterback Rocky Lombardi, who played briefly at Cedar Rapids Washington before moving to West Des Moines Valley, passed for 323 yards and three touchdowns. First-year freshman Ricky White had 196 receiving yards.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.