Iowa Football

Iowa's Riley Moss waited almost a year for that interception against Purdue

And Matt Hankins, the guy Moss replaced, couldn't have been happier for the sophomore

IOWA CITY — The give-and-take of football doesn’t run on a normal clock.

Last year at Purdue, the Boilermakers took from the Iowa secondary. They threw four TD passes, 333 yards and completed nearly 72 percent of their passes. Cornerbacks lost jobs.

Sophomore Riley Moss was one of those corners. He’s played sparingly since last year’s game at West Lafayette. An injury earlier this season didn’t help, either.

OK, that’s the “give.” Moss took care of the “take.”

On a third-and-8 from Iowa’s 40 on the first drive of the second half, Moss picked off quarterback Jack Plummer and gave Iowa a first down at Purdue’s 28. Iowa scored to stretch its lead to 16-7 during Saturday’s victory over Purdue.

Moss had been in for just three play. Purdue went right at him.

“I think it was more of a revenge game for him after last year,” safety Geno Stone said. “I know that was in the back of his mind.”

Moss, who has three career interceptions, said it wasn’t so much revenge for him.

“I’m just glad to see that I’ve made progress since last year,” the Ankeny native said. “That’s what I want to do each and every week. That’s what we want to do as a team each and every week.”

Moss has practiced at the cash safety position since Iowa’s bye week Sept. 21, but that’s not where he showed up against the Boilermakers.

Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm went at cornerback Matt Hankins, who was targeted several times in the first half. The Iowa staff made the call to go with Moss for the second half.

Moss made that look pretty good after just three plays.

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“I knew they were going to come after me,” Moss said. “I just stuck with the gameplan. I knew I was ready.”

Usually, when a player is removed from a game because of performance, they do not come to postgame interviews. It would’ve been understandable if Hankins just went out to eat with his family.

He showed up. He talked about adversity and wanting to enjoy this with his teammates.

“That’s my boy, so I was happy for him, of course,” Hankins said. “I was excited for him.”

Hankins was the first to greet Moss on the sidelines after his pick.

“There are a lot of good things today and that was one of the best things I saw,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Riley ended up having the hot hand, did a really good job there. Matt’s a good football player and I’m just glad both of them are back with us.”

True freshman Dane Belton did play the cash spot and Iowa used it more than it had all season. That’s probably a sign of things to come.

The Hawkeyes are going to need everyone. They’ll take big plays from wherever.

“Riley has the capability to make big plays. He’s a freak athlete,” defensive end A.J. Epenesa said. “He can do those things. It was a confidence thing for him for awhile, I’m sure. He’s got to have confidence to make big plays like that because he can and he came through big for us today.”

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

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