Defensive holes force last-second victory

Miguel Recinos stepped up and won for his team, but defensive gaps that resulted in Nebraska points led up to the moment.


Anna Kayser, Assistant Sports Editor

A walk-off redemption field goal off the foot of Miguel Recinos closed out Iowa’s regular season at Kinnick Stadium with a 31-28 win over Nebraska.

After missing a field goal that would have sent the Hawkeyes up by two scores, the Huskers came back with a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to knot the game at 28. After a 4th-and-8 conversion – Iowa’s second of the day – Recinos was up again for the win.

“He’s shown time and again during practice that he can make those field goals, that he hits those, and he doesn’t miss many,” quarterback Nate Stanley said. “[I] had a lot of confidence in him to go out there and make that.”

Despite missing his first attempt, he wouldn’t have been in the game-winning position had the game been less of a fight.

In a complete turn-around from the first game of the season, the Hawkeyes ended out the regular season with a strong offense and a hole-ridden defense.

On the receiving end to begin the game, Stanley and Company came out of the locker room ready to fight, proving that the offensive resurgence from Nov. 17 at Illinois wasn’t a one-time deal. The 79-yard opening drive ended in a 15-yard rolling end zone catch by Brandon Smith.

“[Our players] showed up at kickoff, really for the 12th time this season, they showed up and played and competed,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Today we had to compete right to the very end.”

The offense collected 252 total yards in the first half, finding its groove in both the run and the passing game.The defense, however, was a different story.

Nebraska tallied 148 passing yards of offense in the first half and was able to piece together 13 points mostly due to Iowa’s faults rather than its own strengths.

The Hawkeye offense’s strong opening drive was offset by a quick return by the Huskers. On 12 plays, only 2 passes went incomplete and the run game collected 3 or more yards on every run.

Quarterback Adrian Martinez gave the defense issues.

“He is a great player,” Anthony Nelson said. “He is fast, can throw, run, do all that. He is elusive and that was a challenge we had. It was a difficult task to contain him.”

The holes tightened through the second quarter when it mattered, holding Nebraska to only field goals. Back-to-back sacks by A.J. Epenesa and Nelson forced the Huskers’ first punt of the afternoon, and their second came after another Nelson sack.

Iowa’s defensive line led the charge in stepping up, but overrun tackles and blocks allowed Northwestern to close in on the Hawkeye lead.

The offense was fighting all game, putting up 28 points through the third quarter thanks to over 200 yards of rushing offense and 143 through the air.

The defense’s biggest moment came following Nebraska’s fourth 4th-down conversion of the game. A pass from Husker quarterback Adrian Martinez sailed into the hands of Michael Ojemudia for the first interception of the game.

Mehki Sargent followed it up on the offensive with a 32-yard run to put Iowa in Nebraska territory. On the day, he ran for 173 yards on 26 carries. Toren Young followed with 85 yards on 18 carries.

Iowa’s inability to close out tight games has been shown in every loss this year, but on senior day, the outcome was in its favor.