The Daily Iowan

Hornibrook’s big day against Hawkeye football comes at a big time

Alex Hornibrook wasn’t flashy, but he managed Wisconsin well enough to give the Badgers a win.

Wisconsin+quarterback+Alex+Hornibrook+drops+back+during+Iowa%27s+game+against+Wisconsin+at+Kinnick+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+22%2C+2018.+The+Badgers+defeated+the+Hawkeyes+28-17.
Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook drops back during Iowa's game against Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 28-17.

Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook drops back during Iowa's game against Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 28-17.

Nick Rohlman

Nick Rohlman

Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook drops back during Iowa's game against Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 28-17.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

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Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook isn’t on any Heisman Watch lists like Badger running back Jonathan Taylor.

Taylor, who broke the FBS record for most rushing yards in a season by a freshman in 2017 with 1,977 yards, was certainly on Iowa’s radar, and the Hawkeye defense tried to make the Badger offense one-dimensional.

Iowa couldn’t stop Taylor in the first half; the sophomore racked up 80 yards as the Wisconsin offensive line bullied Iowa, gaining yards at will.

“We haven’t played an offensive team like them, and I think everybody, pretty much everybody who follows Big Ten football, knew the kind of potential they had offensively,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “They came out and played well, and they ran the ball well. The back’s an excellent player. He’s not good, he’s excellent.”

Taylor was slowed down exponentially in the second half, though, gaining just 33 yards after the break.

That’s when Hornibrook stepped up. He managed the game in a nearly flawless way, completing 17-of-22 passes for 205 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.

“We knew Hornibrook’s a tough guy, experienced guy, and credit to him,” safety Jake Gervase said. “Really talented offensive line; he had some time back there to make plays, and the receivers made plays. We did a pretty solid job against the run, but they had some big plays in the passing game, and that’s stuff we’ve got to clean up.”

His best piece of work came in the fourth quarter with Wisconsin down by 3. Starting at the Badger 12-yard line, Hornibrook led a 10-play, 88-yard drive capped off by 17-yard pass to A.J. Taylor for 6 points and a lead with 57 seconds left.

The drive was detrimental to Iowa, taking some of the life out of Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes followed by throwing an interception on a tipped pass before Wisconsin’s Alec Ingold took a run 33 yards to the house to put the Badgers up by double-digits.

RELATED: Wisconsin’s dagger drive ruins Iowa’s hope for an upset

When it came down to it, Hornibrook knew what he had to do, and he responded.

“I’m not sure what I said [before the go-ahead touchdown drive], it probably wasn’t too complicated,” Hornibrook said. “Everybody knew what we had to do, and we just locked it in and got the drive going.”

Hornibrook’s antics as a silent assassin killed Iowa, along with the Hawkeyes’ own mistakes on special teams.

Hornibrook isn’t really thought of as a top-tier quarterback, though. He was prone to mistakes in 2017, ranking second in the Big Ten with 15 interceptions, trailing only Nebraska’s Tanner Lee.

He doesn’t put up crazy stats, either — through four games, Hornibrook is fifth in the conference with 800 passing yards and also places fifth with 6 passing touchdowns.

RELATED: Special-team mistakes cost Iowa in loss to Wisconsin

But when Hornibrook helped the Badgers beat Iowa, he did exactly what he needed to do. He was accurate, efficient, and pick-less all game.

“There’s not a lot talked about him or written about him, but you think about how many games they have won when he’s in charge, I think they know that better than anybody, they know who he is and what he is, and when they go to him, he responds pretty favorably,” Ferentz said about Hornibrook. “So he didn’t do anything that hurt them tonight, and he made some really good throws and some good plays.”

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About the Contributors
Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

Pete Ruden is the Sports Editor at the DI, 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 junior, he served as a sports reporter his freshman year, before becoming the Assistant Sports Editor his sophomore year.

Nick Rohlman, Photo Editor

Nick Rohlman is one of the photo editors at the DI. In addition to his experience as a photojournalist, he has a background in commercial photography and videography. Nick is a student of economics at the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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