A heartbreaker in Kinnick


NDSU running back Lance Dunn stiff arms Iowa defensive back Miles Taylor during the Iowa-NDSU game at Kinnick on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. NDSU defeated Iowa in the final seconds of the game with a 37-yard field goal, 23-21. (The Daily Iowan/Margaret Kispert)

By Blake Dowson | [email protected]

Certain teams know how to win games.

North Dakota State, a winner of five-straight Football Championship Subdivision national championships and two-straight overtime games heading into its matchup against the Hawkeyes in Kinnick on Sept. 17, is one of those teams.

To win five-consecutive national championships in the Football Championship Subdivision, it takes 20-straight win-or-go-home playoff victories. With that kind of success ingrained into every player’s head in Fargo, it’s hard to do anything else like, say, lose.

“We lost to a really good football team today. It’s as simple as that,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I think anybody who was in the stadium today realized that’s a good football team. They play hard. They’re tough. They’re physical. They believe in themselves. They’ve been doing it for quite a while, but we played the 2016 team, and they were the better team than us today.”

That’s not to say Iowa hasn’t done its fair share of winning, obviously. Heading into the Sept. 17 matchup, the Hawkeyes had won 14-consecutive regular-season games. Their starting quarterback had never lost a regular-season game, with a mark of 15-0 dating back to 2014.

But on this day, Iowa was not the team that looked as though it had been there before; looked as if it did not know how to win a game in the final quarter.

With little more than three minutes left in the game, the Hawkeye offense ran onto the field clinging to a 1-point lead at 21-20 thanks to a failed 2-point conversion by North Dakota State.

Two first downs, and Ferentz and the Hawkeyes could let the clock run out. But the Bison wanted it more.

“Our goal was to get two first downs. If we had done that, they would have had two time-outs left,” Ferentz said. “But if you run the ball twice and get a yard or whatever it was — I don’t even know if we got that — it puts a little pressure on you. But no, our goal was to make first two downs and then bleed the clock.”

Two first downs didn’t happen. In fact, two runs that moved the yards-to-gain stick back and a sack were all the Hawkeyes could muster before punting the ball back to the Bison.

From there, North Dakota State went on to win the game, because that’s what those players have learned how to do time and time again.

“When you get into a fourth quarter of a 60-minute game, don’t bet against those guys in the locker room,” North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman said. “They know one thing, and that’s how to close and how to win.”

After being on the other side of so many close games last season, the Hawkeyes — who won seven games by single digits in 2015 — will have to go back to the drawing board.

There was a somber tone among the players and Ferentz after the game. It had been since Nov. 28, 2014, that the Hawkeyes walked into the interview rooms beneath Kinnick Stadium to discuss a loss.

“We just got to move on,” Beathard said. “We’re going to watch the film tomorrow. We have a lot of things to correct and fix … we just got to move on.”

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