Iowa State painted the state red for another year, topping an offensively-challenged Iowa team 9-6 Saturday in Kinnick Stadium.
“It’s huge,” Iowa junior linebacker James Morris said. “We take a lot of pride in it being a Hawkeye state. They’ve got a trophy. I don’t care. They played well, but I think it’s still a Hawkeye state.
“They were better this year.”
Iowa State (2-0) made its one touchdown count against an Iowa team that can’t find the end zone. Iowa (1-1) only scored one touchdown in its 18-17 season-opening win over Northern Illinois.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who is now 6-8 against Iowa State, can’t figure it out either.
“It would have been great to have more points today, more yards,” Ferentz said. “But it’s just what it is right now.”
What it is might be hard to pin down. Senior quarterback James Vandenberg struggled, hitting just 20-of-42 passing for 236 yards and two interceptions.
“Obviously you want to score touchdowns,” Vandenberg said. “We haven’t been able to do that, and that’s key. The defense did a great job and we didn’t help them out.”
Iowa State scored on its first drive, but only added three more points over the final 55 minutes of the game. Three times the Hawkeye defense came up with big turnovers in the red zone.
Dominic Alvis had a fumble recovery and Tom <FZ,1,0,6>Donatell and James Morris had interceptions to keep Iowa State from scoring points.
“We gave up a lot of yards and put ourselves in some tough situations,” Donatell said. “But we did make some plays. Obviously, we didn’t make enough plays.”
Iowa needed its defense to score. Morris got his interception on 3rd-and-goal late in the fourth quarter, and rumbled out to the Iowa 49.
“I was hoping I would (go all the way),” Morris said. “It would have been a pretty slow last 50. Pretty tired toward the end of that drive.
“We were able to change field position and set our offense up for an opportunity to score a touchdown. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out.”
With the ball near midfield, down three, with 3:23 to play, Vandenberg threw four straight incompletions. The last one was a perfect pass that bounced off the chest of junior receiver Don Shumpert.
It was one of a handful of drops by Iowa receivers Saturday.
“It happens. Stuff happens,” Iowa senior receiver Keenan Davis said. “A dropped ball. OK. Go to the next one. We all drop balls. It’s human nature. He was looking the ball in and everything. Stuff happens.”
The Iowa defense was able to force the Cyclones into a 3-and-out and Iowa got the ball back at their own 10 with 1:56 to play.
Vandenberg completed a clutch 29-yard pass to Davis on 4th-and-3 from the 17. He followed that up with a pair of first-down passes to Damon Bullock.
But on the Iowa State 32-yard-line, with 1:17 to play, Vandenberg tried to guide a pass into the middle of the Cyclone defense. All-Big 12 linebacker Jake Knott tipped it up to himself, intercepting it and effectively ending the game.
“That’s just a throw that shouldn’t have ever been thrown,” Vandenberg said. “A really tight window. The guy made a great play on it.”
A frustrating offense afternoon ended with a frustrating turnover.
“Not really,” Ferentz said when asked if the passing game was more in sync. “We are not there yet. I think that’s fairly obvious right now.”
Mike Meyer hit a pair of field goals — one from 23 yards and one from 21 yards — after Iowa drove inside the 10 and stalled twice.
“The whole time I thought we were going to score,” Davis said. “That’s how you have to think. We came up short.”
Iowa defenders made a point to not blame the offense, despite giving up just 9 points.
“I think that as a unit we came out and played hard and with enthusiasm,” junior defensive end Dominic Alvis said. “But we can’t wait around and let them score 9 points like they did.”
The Iowa defense has set the bar high. Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz had 241 yards passing, but no Cyclone runner had more than 40 yards.
And Iowa held Iowa State to just 110 yards of offense and no points in the second half.
“We grew up a little bit,” Ferentz said of the defense. “You just feel that on the sidelines.”
The offense has another week to grow before Northern Iowa comes to Kinnick Stadium next Saturday.
“It’s an emotional loss, yeah, but to say it’s the end of our season?” Morris said. “Nah. We’re 1-1. We’ve got 10 opportunities to win games. That’s what I’m focused on right now.”
Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football