By the numbers: Iowa vs. Northern Iowa

Iowa’s ground game, passing game, and defense stuffed the stat sheet against Northern Iowa.


David Harmantas

Iowa Hawkeyes running back Mekhi Sargent (10) breaks away from tacklers during a game against Northern Iowa at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Panthers 38–14.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

Iowa’s rushing game was on the money against Northern Iowa on Sept. 15 in Kinnick, specifically with tailbacks Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent.

The duo posted a combined stat line of 29 carries, 158 yards, and 3 touchdowns — the best stat line from any two backs in a game this season.

The two split carries fairly evenly, with Young tallying 14 and Sargent getting 15, including a pair of touchdowns, in the win.

Young led the duo with 82 yards, but Sargent racked up the all-purpose yards. His 72 yards on the ground combined with a 48-yard reception put his yardage total at 120 — almost half the yardage Northern Iowa racked up as a team and more than the Panthers’ top two all-purpose performers combined.

RELATED: Iowa football hurt by penalties against Northern Iowa

“He’s really tough, he’s kind of a deceptive guy, he’s a little tougher than you might give him credit for,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said after the game. “He breaks tackles, and if you don’t get him down, he’ll keep going.”

Iowa’s win over Northern Iowa was Sargent’s best performance in a Hawkeye uniform by far. Previously, the halfback totaled 25 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries against Iowa State, and the weekend before, Sargent had 12 carries for 40 yards.

“I’ve kind of been saying over the last couple weeks that we have seen him during camp really start to get warmed up; now, it’s good to see that go to Kinnick,” Ferentz said.

Putting up the passes

Quarterback Nate Stanley had himself his best performance of the season against the Panthers, throwing for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Stanley compiled a 191.3 passer rating on Sept. 15 — his best in his three games this season. Throw in a season-best 82.1-percent completion rate for good measure, too.

Sept. 15 marked the second time Stanley eclipsed the 300-yard mark in a single game, his first time doing so since Sept. 9, 2015, when Iowa beat Iowa State, 44-41, in overtime.

RELATED: Hensley: Don’t disregard the UNI game, passing attack looked sharp

Stanley’s scoring strike to wide receiver Nick Easley in the third quarter brought his career passing touchdown total to 29, 11th all-time in program history.

Brad Banks, who has 30 passing touchdowns, is the next Hawkeye to beat.

Add up Iowa’s passing and rushing totals from the victory over Northern Iowa, and the Hawkeyes quietly put together a 545-yard team performance, the eighth-most under Ferentz.

Defensive prowess

After not crossing into Hawkeye territory for the entire first half, the Panthers made a statement when they traveled into Iowa’s half of the field at the 5:53 mark in the third quarter.

Northern Iowa’s attempt to move the ball wasn’t helped by its inefficiencies on the ground. The Panthers had just 6 rushing yards, the second-fewest total since Iowa held Kent State to minus-4 yards on the ground in 2004.

Iowa’s 3 sacks against Northern Iowa upped its season total to 12, which ranks second in the Big Ten and ties for third in the nation. Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa, who recorded his fourth sack of 2018, sits tied for third nationally.


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