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’s offense goes flat in loss to Northwestern

Ben Smith
Iowa running back Akrum Wadley misses a pass from quarterback Nate Stanley during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston Oct. 21, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

EVANSTON, Illinois — Ryan Field could have served as Kinnick Stadium on Saturday judging by the number of Hawkeye fans who made the trip to watch Iowa take on Northwestern

However, those fans went home upset after the Wildcats stole the momentum in the second half on their way to picking up a 17-10 overtime victory.

Despite facing a third and 9, Northwestern found its way into the end zone after Justin Jackson took the ball down to the 1-yard line by taking advantage of confusion in the Iowa defense.

The Wildcats went on to punch it in on a Clayton Thorson quarterback sneak.

The Hawkeyes tried to answer on a fourth and 3 by running the same play Noah Fant scored their lone touchdown on, but it was unsuccessful — Fant dropped what would have been a sure first down.

“It’s crazy how that works,” he said. “One play can be a touchdown, the other one can be a dropped pass for the game. I just have to work with it and be consistent with it. I can’t have any more dropped balls.”

Fant’s miscue wasn’t the only reason the Wildcats took control of the game, though.

After going three and out to start the third quarter, Northwestern rallied, marching down the field for its first score of the game on a 6-yard Jeremy Larkin run.

But the key moment of the drive wasn’t the touchdown. It came when Iowa had the Wildcats on the ropes at third and 15.

However, Thorson made magic happen, scrambling 21 yards to give Northwestern’s previously struggling offense new life.

The third-down conversion, as well as the score, took the wind out of Iowa’s sails, and the offense simply could not move the ball. The Wildcats held Iowa to just 14 yards of total offense in the third quarter, while they racked up 133.

The absences of Josey Jewell and Brandon Snyder certainly affected the Hawkeye defense, especially when Northwestern gained the momentum in the second half.

Ben Niemann shifted to middle linebacker and Kevin Ward played at outside, while Jake Gervase started in place of Snyder.

The loss of Jewell, the Big Ten’s leading tackler was huge, and the defense missed his physicality, especially in crunch time.

“He’s a competitive guy, and I know he would’ve loved to be out there,” Niemann said. “He was involved on the sideline and giving me help and the other guys. He wasn’t on the field, but he still helped as much as he could.”

In the first half, things were going just fine for the Hawkeyes. Akrum Wadley recorded 48 yards on the ground in just the first quarter, while Nate Stanley had 75 yards through the air.

The problem was Iowa seemed as if it didn’t want to score. In the first half, it had 238 yards of total offense but only managed to put 7 points on the board.

Northwestern took advantage of the sluggish offense in the second half, out-gaining the Hawkeyes 232 yards to just 74.

“Northwestern competed real hard. Credit goes to them; they were good enough to get it done there in overtime,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Lot of swings during the game. A lot of little things that add up and make a difference.”

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About the Contributor
Pete Ruden
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.