The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa wins first game of season, tops Wyoming, 24-3

Iowa+quarterback+Nate+Stanley+yells+coverage+to+teammates+during+the+Iowa%2FWyoming+game++in+Kinnick+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+2.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+Wyoming%2C+24-3.+%28Joseph+Cress%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
Joseph Cress
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley yells coverage to teammates during the Iowa/Wyoming game in Kinnick on Saturday, Sept. 2. The Hawkeyes defeated Wyoming, 24-3. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Nate Stanley’s nerves showed early.

He threw an interception and didn’t complete a single pass in the first quarter, but he found his rhythm as the game went on, leading Iowa to a 24-3 victory over Wyoming in the season-opener at Kinnick on Sept. 2.

After leaving much to be desired at the start of the game, Stanley bounced back in a big way, tossing 3 touchdown passes en route to his first career win as a starter.

“We had a game plan going into the game, and just having that certainty of the game plan and knowing that my teammates have my back, [the nerves] went away pretty quickly,” Stanley said.

Though they were important, none of his touchdowns were the biggest play of the game.

That came at the end of the second quarter, after Wyoming knocked through a field goal and Stanley threw his first touchdown to tight end Noah Fant. Josh Allen and Company were threatening in Iowa territory when Josey Jewell came to the rescue.

Jewell chased Allen all around the backfield until Allen shovel-passed the ball out of bounds and was flagged for intentional grounding, crediting Jewell with a huge sack of 19 yards.

RELATED: Bracing for Josh Allen

Then the Hawkeyes picked up an unlikely surprise.

Set to punt and shift field position, Wyoming punter Tim Zaleski whiffed on his attempt, and the Hawkeyes jumped on it.

After the Cowboys jumped offside, evidence of their crumbling foundation, Stanley found Fant again for a 27-yard touchdown.

Iowa didn’t look back after halftime, scoring 10 more points without allowing Wyoming to sniff the end zone.

The point at which Hawkeye fans knew the inexperienced quarterback and receivers were getting into the groove came in the third quarter when Stanley floated a play-action pass to Iowa Western transfer Nick Easley.

Easley took care of the rest, fighting his way into the end zone for his first touchdown in the Black and Gold.

While he had some impressive moments, Stanley also had some pitfalls.

Along with the early interception, the sophomore lost 2 fumbles in Iowa territory.

RELATED: Stanley earns starting spot

Luckily for Stanley, though, the Iowa defense was exceptional throughout the day, allowing the turnovers to haunt the team only once, when Wyoming scored its lone points of the day.

The defense was also able to keep Allen at bay, is a tall task. The Hawkeyes held the first-round NFL Draft prospect to just 174 yards, picking off 2 passes in the process.

“We knew we were going to have to come play ball today,” Jewell said. “Great quarterback — I mean, he can hurt you with his feet and his arm. You can see some of the plays today. We just had to understand coming into this first game, we’re going have to communicate well, we’re going to have to work on the fundamentals, and we’re going to have to make sure tackles. I think we did a pretty good job of that, but you can always do better.”

Stanley also had the help of the running game on his side.

Akrum Wadley rushed for 116 yards, and James Butler added 47 to take the pressure off the quarterback.

RELATED: Into the running

While there were some mistakes, head coach Kirk Ferentz liked what he saw from Stanley and the rest of his team.

“I was really pleased with him,” Ferentz said. “He went through some rough times out there. I mentioned the whole team really responded to the bumps, but I think he did too … He stayed strong and just stayed steady out there.”

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About the Contributor
Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @PeteyRuden Pete Ruden is the Pregame Editor at The Daily Iowan, where he has worked since the beginning of his college career. He has covered a variety of sports at the DI, including football, men's basketball, baseball, wrestling, and men's tennis. Currently a senior, he served as a sports reporter his freshman year, before becoming the Assistant Sports Editor and then Sports Editor his junior year.