IOWA CITY — Go ahead, convince us football is steeped in logic.
Then explain how after Iowa had a costly offsides penalty on a Nebraska field goal try, failed to get a red zone first down on a fake field goal, and missed a field goal, it won its football game Friday on a last-second ... field goal.
Tell us about the importance of recruiting, about the persistence of the coaches’ countless calls, letters and texts to primo high school players. Then remember the last 2018 game in Kinnick Stadium was settled by someone who came here with no scholarship and no guarantee of ever trying a kick that counted in a game that counted.
Miguel Recinos’ right foot hit the ball in the right spot, it sailed between the uprights, and Iowa had a 31-28 win over genuinely hated rival Nebraska.
Recinos was a redshirt freshman from Mason City who watched hysteria follow Marshall Koehn after Koehn’s 57-yard walk-off field goal against Pittsburgh here in 2015. Recinos made two PAT kicks that season.
He watched sudden glory and permanent gratitude follow Keith Duncan after Duncan connected on a 33-yard walk-off field goal for an upset over Michigan here in 2016. Recinos made 1 of 3 field goals that season. One of the misses was a 46-yarder in that Michigan game, requiring later heroics from his peer, Duncan.
But kicking is fickle. Recinos beat out Duncan for the starting job in summer camp of 2017, and has made 26 of 33 field goals since. None of the first 25, though, compares to the senior’s 41-yarder in the rain Friday as time expired in a game that was wet and wild.
Euphoric, Recinos took a victory lap. Thinking on his feet, he wanted to stay a step ahead of the posse, his own celebrating teammates. So he ran, and ran some more, and kept running. Better that than to wind up at the bottom of a pile of pumped-up teammates.
“I was really winded after the end of that,” Recinos said.
“I was feeling a little nauseous there for a second. It was crazy.”
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Yes, it was. It was crazy how the Hawkeyes let a 28-13 fourth-quarter lead turn into a 28-28 deal that needed Recinos to deliver to avoid overtime. The kicker himself had added to the Hawkeyes’ anxiety when he missed a 37-yarder that would have put Iowa up 31-20 with 7:54 left.
In the crazy world of kicking, though, the miss wasn’t regarded as a bad thing. In hindsight, anyway.
“Honestly,” said holder Colten Rastetter, “I think it was good he missed the first one.”
“I would never say this to Coach (Kirk) Ferentz,” Recinos said. “I always seem to be better after I miss one.
“It’s easier to block everything out because I get angry. But for me, that anger is positive.”
After his missed kick, Recinos said he had a feeling Nebraska would march for a touchdown, make the 2-point conversion to tie the game, and Iowa’s offense would then move the ball into field goal position to give him a shot at redemption.
He said missing a kick “is a very lonely feeling.” Yet, it wasn’t.
“When I came over to the sideline, it just speaks to the quality of the guys that are my teammates because every single one of them came up to me. I’ve seen it before where they say it just to say it. These guys meant it. ‘You’re all right, we’re gonna need you again. We see you do it all the time, we’ve got tremendous faith in you.’ ”
Three seconds left, tie game. Nebraska Coach Scott Frost called a timeout to make Recinos think about things. Why do coaches keep doing that? Kickers aren’t like the rest of us.
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“Frost made a big mistake calling timeout on that one,” said Recinos, “because it gave me the opportunity to get the guys together. I was able to say a few things to them, told them I loved them no matter what.”
Jackson Subbert’s snap was perfect. Rastetter’s hold was likewise. The senior kicker did what he did a thousand times in practice and thousands more in his mind. The love quickly was stadium-wide.
Rastetter began rejoicing before Recinos realized the kick was good.
“I doubt it,” Rastetter replied when asked if Recinos would be mobbed in public Friday night. “He doesn’t have social media, so I don’t even know if people know what he looks like.”
His teammates know. Recinos got them a walk-off win, then took them on the happiest run of their lives.
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