Defense shoves Hawkeyes past Rutgers


By Jordan Hansen| [email protected]

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Someone on Iowa’s defense had to make a play.

It was starting to get late in the fourth quarter, and Rutgers, a series ago, had picked up a touchdown, tying the game at 7. Iowa’s defense looked gassed after the previous drive, with the offense doing them no favors; it went backwards 16 yards and had to punt.

The Scarlet Knights were starting to move the ball again, and the defense knew creating a turnover could shift the game. The Hawkeyes strung two good plays together in a row — a negative run play and then a sack, putting Rutgers in a third-and-17 situation at its own 23.

Quarterback Chris Laviano dropped back and threw a dart underneath to wide receiver Andre Patton. Iowa safety Brandon Snyder sprinted forward and held on to Patton, trying to dislodge the ball.

He did. Iowa ball, at the 21.

After a false start, Hawkeye running back Akrum Wadley got around the edge and scored a touchdown, making it 14-7, the eventual final score.

“I just ended up tackling him and trying to work the ball out,” Snyder said. “I did, and I jumped on it right away. We needed a spark and that was it.”

Snyder finished with a team-leading 13 tackles and made a number of important plays in a thoroughly ugly contest. None, however, were more important than the game’s single turnover.

It gave the Hawkeyes a bit of momentum in a game that had started to feel like the North Dakota State loss a week before. Like the Bison, the Scarlet Knights were able to run wherever they pleased during most of the game, to the tune of 193 yards. They also began to push the Hawkeyes around in the fourth quarter, which is not ideal.

To Iowa’s credit, it was able to hold on two different fourth downs, including a goal-line stand where star linebacker Josey Jewell made or assisted a tackle on four-consecutive plays. The stand happened immediately after a huge 76-yard pass to Rutgers wide receiver Janarion Grant (who was injured on the play and did not return), right before the end of the first half.

Cornerback Desmond King managed to chase Grant down and stop him before he crossed the goal line. After stopping Rutgers for four plays, the Hawkeyes then went on a 99-yard touchdown drive, scoring the game’s first touchdown with 34 seconds remaining before the break.

“Everybody did his job,” Jewell said. “We didn’t give [the offense] the best field position, but they did what they needed to do.”

Offensively, it was one of the few times during the game Iowa was able to consistently string together a drive. Iowa finished with 193 rushing yards and 162 passing, but also went an ugly 3-of-11 on third down.

Wadley, making a return to his home state, led the Hawkeyes in rushing with 84 yards. LeShun Daniels Jr. had 77, while starting quarterback C.J. Beathard finished with 37.

Speaking of the Iowa quarterback, Beathard finished 12-of-23 with 162 yards and a touchdown to tight end George Kittle. Far from a perfect performance, but at the end of the day, a win was still a win.

“I thought the best thing our football team did today was show fight at the end of both halves,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Encouraged by that. Certainly there are things we need to improve on right now, and that’s what we’ve been committed to since Day 1.

“We have work to do on that.”

Follow @JordyHansen for Iowa football news, updates, and analysis.

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