Iowa takes down Northern Illinois for win No. 1 of the season

Running back Toren Young led the charge on offense, while Iowa’s defense kept Northern Illinois silent in the Hawkeyes 33-7 win on Saturday.


Nick Rohlman

Iowa running back Mehki Sargent carries the ball during Iowa's game against Northern Illinois at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 1, 2018. during Iowa's game against Northern Illinois at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies 33-7.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

Toren Young sparked the offense, the Hawkeye defense stuffed Northern Illinois, and Kirk Ferentz earned win No. 144 at Iowa — the school football record — in a 33-7 win on Sept. 1.

Ferentz entered the day tied with legendary coach Hayden Fry at 143 victories, but after the victory, he owns one of the shiniest records in Hawkeye history. However, the record-setting win didn’t come with ease, at least during the game’s first two quarters.

Through the first half, and even into the third quarter, Iowa’s offense was lifeless. The Hawkeyes had 148 yards after the first half, and things didn’t go in the right direction to start the third quarter; Iowa went three-and-out to kick things off in its first possession in the third.

Enter Young, whose first carry of the game came with emphasis. The redshirt sophomore took a handoff through the middle, trucked a defender — adding a stiff arm for good measure — and took off for 40 yards. Four plays later, quarterback Nate Stanley found his favorite target in 2018, Noah Fant, in the back of the end zone on fourth down for the game’s first touchdown.

The Hawkeyes tacked on another 7 points in the third quarter when Young took off again for a big ramble, this time going for 24 yards. Ivory Kelly-Martin, who Iowa listed as its starter for the game, shed a trio of tackles before crossing the goal line on an outside run.

Young also scored a touchdown on Iowa’s first possession of the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, the defense silenced the Huskies’ offense.

In the first quarter, Nick Niemann shot through a gap and tackled Northern Illinois’ D.J. Brown for a 6-yard loss on fourth-and-2.

With Northern Illinois driving late in the second quarter (and Iowa leading, 3-0), Amani Hooker intercepted Northern Illinois’ Marcus Childers, squashing any hopes the Huskies had for points before halftime.

In the third quarter, Iowa’s defense held the Huskies to negative yardage (minus-2, to be exact) thanks in part to the sack-fest at Kinnick.

Iowa sacked Childers five times. Parker Hesse had 2 and Anthony Nelson, A.J. Epenesa, and Kristian Welch each added one.

But aside from Young and Iowa’s strong defensive performance, the Hawkeyes left Kinnick with plenty of question marks, one of which surrounded Stanley.

The quarterback, who had plenty of hype attached to his name in the offseason (thanks, Colin Cowherd), finished 11-of-23 for 108 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He had a mixed outing, hitting some of his receivers in stride, including a beautiful 40-yard bomb to Fant that the tight end dropped, but he also missed targets and threw an ill-advised pass into double coverage, which was intercepted.

Preseason All-American Fant, who caught Stanley’s lone TD pass of the game, had a less-than-All-American performance against the Huskies (aside from his touchdown). Fant finished with 3 receptions for 10 yards. He was penalized for illegal touching, and he also received a holding call on the same drive in the first quarter.

Regardless, Iowa started 2018 with a win. Now, the Hawkeyes turn their attention to the in-state rival. Iowa State will travel to Kinnick on Sept. 8.

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