Iowa Football

No. 19 Iowa 18, Iowa State 17: Soggy but swaggy

Iowa gets the checkmark for special teams

AMES — Iowa State students stormed the field. During the storm. Good thing they got it in when they could.

After nearly three hours of storm delays, the Hawkeyes slogged their way to an 18-17 victory over Iowa State before 61,500 fans Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

The first storm delay was around 45 minutes. The next was more than two hours. This game aged everyone about 40 years.

The last lightning struck about 9 p.m.

The No. 19 Hawkeyes (3-0) were forced to punt with 1:37 left in the game. Iowa State’s Datrone Young ran into punt returner Deshaunte Jones and Iowa safety Devonte Young recovered.

That was the last bit of lightning. And, really, other than Iowa State’s 51-yard flea flicker, the only lightning that really wasn’t lightning from the sky.

The Hawkeyes rode kicker Keith Duncan’s four field goals to the win. Duncan’s final boot, a 39-yarder, with 4:51 left stood up.

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy was tremendous, completing 24 of 34 for 276 yards and a TD, but the Hawkeyes finally held on the Cyclones’ last drive, with free safety Jack Koerner batting down the ball like it was nuclear waste.

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With two new starters in the secondary, Iowa’s defense was thrown in “bend don’t break” mode all night. Kind of fitting that Koerner, one of the newbies, was there to ensure the win.

With the wet field, wind and rain, the offense wasn’t flashy, but Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley completed 22 of 35 for 201 yards and rushed for a 1-yard score in the fourth quarter. He completed a pair of passes (14 yards to running back Mekhi Sargent and 28 yards to wide receiver Brandon Smith) to push the game-winning drive.

The Hawkeyes were outgained by ISU (1-1), 418 to 313, but Duncan’s four field goals (25, 40, 42 and 39 yards) gave Iowa the check on special teams. That turnover at the end also kind of did, too.

This started with the offenses doing stuff.

The Hawkeyes drained 7:23 off the clock on their opening drive. When Sargent was held to a 3-yard gain on a third-and-4 from ISU’s 11, Duncan booted a 25-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

Iowa State’s offense won this game of “one-up.”

The Hawkeyes were missing two defensive starters in cornerback Matt Hankins and defensive tackle Brady Reiff. The Cyclones went right at corner D.J. Johnson.

Their first two plays were 12-yard passes. The third was a 7-yard rush followed by a 4-yard pass. The fourth was a flea flicker that played on Johnson’s inexperience.

Purdy pitched the ball to Jones. Johnson gave wide receiver La’Michael Pettway a cushion and then took off after the handoff, leaving Pettway wide open.

Jones hit him in stride for a 51-yard TD and a 7-3 lead with 5:44 left in the first quarter.

This is when rain delay No. 1 happened. It was just 48 minutes. The heavy stuff was on its way.

With lightning and a severe thunderstorm warning, the first half was dangerous enough, but, when play resumed after the second delay — a two-hour, and six-minute doozy — the Hawkeyes went three-and-out and ISU went to work.

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On a third-and-6, Johnson made a stop to force a fourth-and-3 at Iowa’s 32. The Cyclones lined up to go for it, but guard Trevor Downing was hit with a false start and that pushed ISU to punt.

On their next drive, the Cyclones reached Iowa’s 48 before the drive stalled after a Kristian Welch sack. Iowa answered with another three-and-out, this time with the drive dying when Stanley turned his back to the line of scrimmage to complete a fake while cornerback Anthony Johnson fired in on a corner blitz for a 7-yard sack.

The Cyclones came really close to setting the hook on their next drive.

They moved into Iowa territory and had a first down at the Hawkeyes’ 33, but safety Geno Stone got Purdy to bobble the ball. It came out and Koerner recovered.

The Hawkeyes took over and went on their best drive of the day, going from their 19 to the Cyclones’ 22.

Then, kind of like last week, Iowa ran the clock down to 21 seconds with three timeouts left. Last week, Ferentz said he didn’t want to leave time for Rutgers to have a chance to score. This almost cost Iowa a shot at a field goal, but Duncan hit the 40-yarder and it was 7-6 at halftime.

Iowa held a huge advantage in time of possession in the first half (18:59 to 11:01), but Purdy was magnificent, hitting 12 of 13 for 86 yards.

Iowa’s defense came up with the stops that kept a saggy offense in it.

Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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