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No happy ending for Hawkeyes football

[ 0 ] November 23, 2012 |

The 2012 Iowa football season probably didn’t deserve a happy ending — and it didn’t get one.

Iowa (4-8) had its chances to upset No. 17 Nebraska (10-2, 7-1), but instead lost 13-7 on a windy, chilly Black Friday afternoon at Kinnick Stadium.

The final offensive play of the season for Iowa was an interception thrown by James Vandenberg.

Nebraska linebacker Alonzo Wahley read the slant and ended the Hawkeyes’ hope for an upset.

The Iowa offense couldn’t convert in the end and also missed some earlier opportunities to put points on the board, as well.

The Hawkeyes got the ball twice after Nebraska fumbles and neither time converted a short field into points.

“It just comes back to what we talk about a lot,” Iowa senior center James Ferentz said. “There are six to eight critical plays in every football game that ultimately decide the game.

“There were some critical moments we didn’t execute and kept shooting ourselves in the foot. In that sense, it kind of hurts.”

The Iowa defense did its part, holding the Huskers to a season-low 13 points. Their previous low was 23 points in a win over Michigan.

“We did our job for the most part, but just came up a little short,” junior safety Tanner Miller said. “We were in position to make plays, but we weren’t making them.”

Nebraska set the tone early, using 15 runs and just one pass to drive 75 yards to take a 3-0 lead on a 26-yard field goal by Brett Maher.

Nebraska rolled up 200 yards rushing on 53 attempts. Rex Burkhead came back from injury to run for 69 yards on 16 carries. Ameer Abdullah had 50 yards on 14 carries. Braylon Heard had 46 yards on four carries.

And quarterback Taylor Martinez had 41 yards on 16 carries to go with 63 passing yards.

“We knew coming in they were going to run the ball downhill on us,” senior cornerback Micah Hyde said. “Give them credit, they are a hard team to stop.”

Iowa mixed the power running of Mark Weisman — who finished with 91 yards on 29 carries — with play-action passes to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz on its only touchdown drive in the first quarter.

Even when Nebraska punt returner Abdullah fumbled the ball away to Hyde at the start of the second quarter, Iowa couldn’t get its offense in gear.

Weisman was stopped on fourth-and-1 from the Nebraska 39.

Just two minutes later, Louis Trinca-Pasat recovered a Martinez fumble to give Iowa the ball at their own 48.

But Iowa couldn’t convert a third-and-13 and had to punt with 3:44 left in the second quarter.

“Credit to Nebraska,” Jame Ferentz said. “They had it when it counted the most.”

Behind 13-7, Iowa got the ball at its own 42 with 8:47 left. After three Wiesman runs, Iowa turned to John Wienke to punt on fourth-and-3 from midfield.

“It wasn’t that late, was it?” Ferentz said. “Six minutes, seven minutes. There was a lot of time. The idea there is to get the ball down inside the 20, let them punt into the wind. That wasn’t too tough.

“You get down inside four minutes, I think we’re looking at a whole different world there.”

Iowa did get the ball back one last time at their own 27 with 3:31 to play. The third play was Vandenberg’s interception. His seventh of the season.

“We thought we had what we needed when we got the ball back with four minutes left, then they asked us to do it again,” junior linebacker James Morris said. “We don’t ask questions … and we didn’t have it.”

The Iowa defense did force Nebraska to punt and Iowa got the ball back at the Husker 42 with 1:57 to play. But that drive ended in a 42-yard missed field goal by Mike Meyer.

“They played tough, they played physical,” junior receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley said. “Plays were called and we weren’t able to convert. Those guys made plays when they needed to make them.”

It was a season of missed plays for the Hawkeyes, who finished the year on a five-game losing streak they’ll carry into 2013.

By finishing 4-8, it marked the worst record under Ferentz since he went 3-9 in his second season at Iowa.

“4-8, not much joy there,” Ferentz said. “You’ve got to go back to 2000 to be in that situation. So that’s not much fun. We’ve been there before.

“Still, the low point of my tenure here would have been the second part of the ’06 season. To me that was a low point. Maybe I’ll feel differently at the end of this week, but currently that’s how I feel.”

Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or rsuchomel@press-citizen.com.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Ryan Suchomel: Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or rsuchomel@press-citizen.com. View author profile.

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