BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – After being penalized three times last week for delay of game, Mother Nature delayed the start of the Iowa Hawkeyes’ game here today against the Indiana Hoosiers.
Scheduled for a 2:30 kickoff Iowa time, it was a little over an hour later that the thunder and lightning storms finally cleared the area the teams took the field.
But the weather was the least of the Hawkeyes’ concerns as the game unfolded.
Rather, it was the previously dismal Indiana defense that stepped up and caused a whirlwind of problems for the Iowa offensive.
Having given up an average of 36 points and 516 yards of offense per game before today, the Hoosier defense held the Hawkeye offense to just 21 points and 345 yards of offense, including just 96 on the ground.
The Hoosiers came away victorious, 24-21. It was their first victory against Kirk Ferentz’s squad since 2007.
The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 14-0 lead early on.
A 6 play, 71-yard drive on the Hawkeyes’ second possession of the contest ended with a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback James Vandenberg to wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley.
Following Mike Meyer’s kickoff, linebacker Christian Kirksey intercepted a Nate Sudfeld pass on the Hoosier’s next play from scrimmage and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown.
The Hoosiers responded with a 45-yard Mitch Ewald field goal late in the first quarter.
“We got off to a great start and had a 14-3 lead,” said Ferentz. “I think all-in-all, our guys played really hard and competed hard, but the bottom line is we didn’t play well enough to win.”
The score remained the same until late in the second quarter when Indiana quarterback Cameron Coffman hit Cody Latimer for a 15-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute remaining in the half.
Taking a 14-10 lead into the locker room at the half, the Hawkeyes had managed only 6 first downs to Indiana’s 13. With less than a minute of advantage in time of possession, Indiana mustered 225 yards of total offense to the Hawkeye’s 136.
Indiana received the ball to start the third quarter and went 3-and-out in less than a minute.
The Hawkeyes took over at their own 31 and marched down the field to the Indiana 12, when Vandenberg’s pass was intercepted in the end zone by Antonio Marshall.
“That was just a throw that can’t be made,” said Vandenberg, who finished the day 21 of 34, for 249 yards. “[Marshall] played it really well and they had a better call than we did. That’s just a ball that has to go out the back of the end zone. They had a better call than we did.
“We’ve just got to be able to take three there.”
Indiana responded with a 7-play, 80-yard drive, capped off by Coffman’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Latimer, his second of the game, to put Indiana up for the first time, 17-14.
Iowa went 3-and-out on its next possession and Indiana took over at its own 31. Coffman threw three incomplete passes and the Hawkeye defense thought it held, but a 15-yard personal foul on third down by James Morris kept the drive alive.
“I made a mistake, but you can’t worry about the last play,” said Morris. “You’ve got to worry about the next play.”
Five plays later, a Morris tackle stalled the Hoosiers’ drive at the Iowa 31.
A four-yard Damon Bullock touchdown run would give Iowa the lead, 21-17 with just over 12 minutes to play.
Bullock would end the day with 83 yards on 25 carries.
Indiana would take the lead for good with another touchdown pass from Coffman to Latimer, this time for 30 yards, with just under 11 minutes left to play.
Both Latimer and fellow receiver Kofi Hughes would both end the game with 100-plus yard performances.
Marshall and Adam Replogle would each have seven tackles and combine for 3 tackles for loss. They controlled the line of scrimmage for much of the day testing a rebuilt Iowa offensive line.
The Hawkeyes would have three more possessions, but all three would come up empty.
Heading into next week’s home game against Purdue, the Hawkeyes now find themselves at 4-5 and 2-3 in conference play.
Facing the prospect of having to win two of the next three games to become bowl eligible, the team is quick to point out that their focus is not on postseason play.
“It’s nice to go to a bowl and it gives you extra time to practice and develop young guys, but the reason you play the game is for the camaraderie and the brotherhood of your teammates,” said Steve Bigach. “The game of football is about playing to gether as a team and a group of men coming together with a common goal.”
Bigach stressed that he does not believe the team has given up. Rather, his concerns are more week-to-week.
“Personally, you go into every game expecting to win. If you don’t, you’re going to lose,” he said.
“I told our guys from before the Big Ten season started that I thought we could win any game or lose any game on our schedule,” said Ferentz. “We clearly have work to do right now, but I haven’t changed my opinion. We aren’t putting the flag up…I thought we improved this week, I thought we were a better football team today than a week ago, so that’s our mode of operation. We are trying to improve.”
After next week, Iowa travels to Michigan and returns to Kinnick Stadium for a season finale against Nebraska.