Iowa’s offense, defense come out swinging for the Pig

Iowa’s offense collected 420 total yards and the defensive line collected 5 sacks in a total team win against Minnesota.


Nick Rohlman

Iowa players hold the “Floyd of Rosedale” trophy after their game against Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, October 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers 48-31.

Anna Kayser, Assistant Sports Editor

MINNEAPOLIS — The 44-degree kickoff temperature didn’t cool down Iowa football on either side of the ball in its 48-31 battle for Floyd of Rosedale against Minnesota.

Iowa’s defense set the tone for the game early when a sack by Anthony Nelson forced a Gopher punt on the opening drive. The offense replied on the subsequent drive with a fourth-down conversion.

On the next third down, Nate Stanley found Ivory Kelly-Martin — through the air — for a 15-yard gain. Two plays later, tight end T.J. Hockenson was in the end zone for Iowa’s first opening-drive score of the season.

The defense didn’t give the Hawkeye offense much time to rest. Minnesota quarterback Zack Annexstad completed a pass on a third-and-10, but defensive lineman Parker Hesse put a hard stop on the play, resulting in a loss of 4 yards.

Iowa’s offensive drive was even quicker. Facing a third-and-8, Stanley scrambled around and found Smith-Marsette wide open downfield for 60 yards to go up 14-7.

“[I] thought the guys really came out ready to go,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “That’s something we didn’t do so well earlier in the season, but it seemed like we were ready to play.”

Minnesota’s first score came after the game’s first penalty. A substitution penalty moved the Gophers up 4 yards on third down. Two first downs later, Annexstad moved the chains again with a 34-yard pass that led to Iowa’s lead being cut in half.

Annexstad picked the offense up by throwing the ball instead of running it, and with freshman Riley Moss in for cornerback Michael Ojemudia, the Hawkeyes got burned.

“We kind of knew they were going to attack [Moss],” defensive back Jake Gervase said. “A true freshman guy out there — I just said, ‘Hey, you’re out there for a reason, just trust in your confidence and have trust in your play.’ ”

Iowa responded to Minnesota’s drive with a three-and-out, handing the ball right back to Minnesota just seconds into the second quarter.

After back-to-back first downs, Nelson decided to take matters into his own hands, sacking Annexstad not once but twice in a row for a loss of 14 total yards.

Facing fourth and goal in its first drive of the second quarter, Iowa lined up for the field goal. But instead of kicking, Hockenson took the sideways snap and ran it in 4 yards for the touchdown, running the score to 21-7.

Minnesota continued to focus on the inexperience of Moss, gaining 26 combined yards on two plays. The defensive line came up with a big stop on third down to hold the Gopher offense to a 49-yard field goal.

In the final four minutes of the half, Iowa and Minnesota went back and forth six times, and each tacked on a TD. Moss redeemed himself with Iowa’s first interception of the game, but on the next drive, Stanley threw a pick that gave the Gophers easy position for a touchdown.

“It was not a smart play, should have just thrown that ball away, and it’s a mistake that I made,” Stanley said. “I think that something our team does a really good job of is everyone has each other’s back, and a lot of guys came up to me afterwards and said ‘Hey, flush it, we’re going to go right back down the field and make a play.’ ”

It took a little longer than the next play for the offense to get going again. Up 28-17, Iowa opened up the second half with a field goal but handed over a TD on its next possession after a sack of Stanley and an ensuing fumble deep in the Hawkeye red zone for the second time.

In the best game of the season, an interception and a fumble didn’t slow Stanley down. With Kelly-Martin helping out with control of the running game, Stanley threw a 16-yard pass to gain yards on drive that resulted in a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Noah Fant.

Stanley ended the day with 23-for-39 for 314 yards. The running game collected 106 total yards.

The Minnesota quarterbacks, Annexstad and backup Seth Green, had tough days. Both of the Gophers’ first two drives in the fourth quarter resulted in touchdowns for each quarterback by Iowa’s two true freshmen: Moss and Julius Brents.

Annexstad was also sacked five times by the Iowa defensive line for a total loss of 31 yards.

The scoring didn’t stop, with Iowa outscoring Minnesota 10-7 in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring at 48-31. Minnesota’s final drive to end the game ended in a fourth Hawkeye interception, this time by Geno Stone.

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