WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — These comments probably won’t cost Kirk Ferentz $10,000, but he made his point Saturday night about the officiating late in Iowa’s loss at Purdue.
Still, there’s the fact that Purdue’s offense got off on the Hawkeyes. Quarterback David Blough exploded all over Ross-Ade Stadium, and the championship portion of Iowa’s season is over.
Those are facts. The rest is interpretation.
Blough completed 23 of 32 for 333 yards and four TDs. The senior picked on freshmen corners Riley Moss and Julius Brents and threw TD passes of 36, 41, 82 and 3. Wide receiver Terry Wright will have a wrestle-off with Blough for Big Ten offensive player of the week. Wright caught six passes for 146 yards and three TDs, including the 82-yarder.
Kicker Spencer Evans hit a 25-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the game to push the Boilermakers over the top, 38-36, before 60,716 fans at Ross-Ade Stadium.
No. 16 Iowa (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten) also missed a pair of two-point PATs, including one midway through the third quarter that seemed out of place and early. Iowa’s offense had another one of those kind of “stuck-in-gear” performances, not totally taking advantage of field position. Purdue (5-4, 4-2) started fast on Iowa’s defense. The Hawkeyes eventually held up with a pair of fourth-quarter stops.
Iowa lost this game. Ferentz hasn’t spoken about officiating really at all in 20 years of postgames as Iowa’s head coach. He did Saturday.
At first, Ferentz was subtle.
“The last possessions both went different directions,” Ferentz said. “Officiating probably factored into both of them, but that’s part of football and you live with that, too.”
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Iowa had the ball and a 36-35 lead with eight minutes left. A holding call on center Keegan Render pushed the drive back to Iowa’s 18. Two plays later, running back Mekhi Sargent was called for holding. Iowa punted to the 50. Purdue drove for the winning field goal from there.
“We go 55 minutes without a holding call, got two of them there,” Ferentz said. “It’s unfortunate.”
Maybe he does get fined for commenting on the pass interference wide receiver Isaac Zico drew on Brents during the Boilermakers’ final drive.
He started that commentary out with some commentary on Iowa receivers being held.
“A year ago, our receivers couldn’t get open against a junior high team and today we had a hard time,” Ferentz said. “I think we have pretty good receivers.”
And then the Brents play. The true freshman got tied up with Zico. In an alternate universe, Purdue would’ve faced a third-and-18 from Iowa’s 31. In reality, the flag came out right away, no hesitation. Whatever Brents showed, the official didn’t wait around to throw the flag.
“There’s a PI at the end of the game. Just looking on replay — I didn’t have a good angle — it looked like a clean play to me. It looked like a ball overthrown.
“I don’t mind telling you that’s a little frustrating for everybody, but there are a million plays in a game that can influence an outcome.”
It looked like tight end Noah Fant was held on Iowa’s second failed 2-point conversion with 10:19 left in the game. The defender lined up across from him hugged Fant off the line of scrimmage. Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz went nuts on that one.
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“You know, I felt like there was a lot of grabbing all game,” Fant said. “It’s not really my place to say as far as officiating crew if they saw it or not. I talked to the ref after that play and asked him what he was seeing, and he said that he would watch it. But I don’t know. They saw what they saw and none of that would really matter if we would have put ourselves in a better margin of victory in the first place.”
The Boilermakers put a season-high 434 yards on Iowa’s defense. Blough’s 333 passing yards was the most against the Hawkeyes in 19 games.
“As a secondary, I felt like we weren’t ready to go today and it cost us some points,” senior safety Jake Gervase said. “That’s on us, that’s on me. We’ve got to do a better job of coming together.”
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley completed 21 of 32 for 275 yards and a TD. He also rushed for another. Stanley wouldn’t comment on how his thumb felt coming out of the game.
The debate on officiating and/or flat out losing to Purdue should keep everyone busy through early December. Everyone will be right and no one will feel good about winning the argument.
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