Stanley shows veteran poise versus Iowa State

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley didn't light up the stat sheet, but he made the big plays when necessary to take down Iowa State.

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Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley makes a pass during a football game between Iowa and Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, September 14, 2019. The Hawkeyes retained the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the fifth consecutive year, downing the Cyclones, 18-17.

Robert Read, Assistant Sports Editor

A long weather delay can be demoralizing for any football team, especially a pair of delays that total nearly three hours. It can be easy for a team to lose focus with such long breaks between play.

Luckily for the Hawkeyes, they have a senior class led by quarterback Nate Stanley to guide the team to victory.

“We’re just thrilled to get the victory and proud of our seniors,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We needed great leadership, and we got it tonight. It was our first time on the road, it’s a tough place to play, so the seniors did a great job.”

Even for veteran players like A.J. Epenesa, the leadership the seniors showed was critical for the team’s success.

“The seniors showed us the way,” Epenesa said. “I think we reacted to it pretty well and responded. We didn’t play that great. It wasn’t pretty by any means, but we got the win and that’s all that matters.”

Stanley had a fairly pedestrian performance on the stat sheet, completing 22 of his 35 passes for 201 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. However, the leadership and composure the third-year starter showed was the difference for Iowa in defeating Iowa State.

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The Hawkeyes came out of the second weather delay trailing 7-3 with 13:24 remaining in third quarter. All the time spent in the locker room because of the delay was a hurdle he hadn’t had to jump over at Iowa before.

“I haven’t experienced that since high school,” Stanley said. “I had a situation like that in high school, and it does take away momentum. Unfortunately, it’s something you got to deal with. But I think we did a great job handling it and then coming out and playing well after those breaks.”

The Iowa defense didn’t allow a point to Iowa State for the rest of the first half after returning from the delay. Stanley led a 12-play, 59-yard drive that resulted in a field goal right before the half to bring the score to 7-6.

Iowa State scored quickly to begin the second half, and Iowa needed to put points on the board to prevent the game from getting out of hand.

Halfway through the third quarter, Iowa had the ball facing third down at its own 19-yard line with a seemingly insurmountable 22 yards to go. Many teams might opt to run a draw or a screen pass in hopes of gaining a good chunk of yards to set up better field position for a punt.

Iowa decided to let Stanley sling it, which proved to be a good call.

Stanley stood calmly in the pocket surveying the field, only to see wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette find an opening on a post route. The veteran quarterback delivered a strike to Smith-Marsette, a perfectly place ball in a tight window to pick up 27 yards and a first down.

“I can’t say enough about what Nate is doing right now,” Ferentz said. “He’s more in control than he has ever been since we’ve been around him. That throw he made on third and [22] was as good as I’ve seen him throw.” 

The play signified a switch in momentum for Iowa. The Hawkeyes kicked a field goal at the end of the possession. Iowa proceeded to secure a tightly contested game against the in-state rival.

“It’s extremely special,” Stanley said. “To be able to do it with my teammates and for them, not being from Iowa, seeing the guys tearing up in the locker room after the game, that’s the best part of it, just being able to do it for my teammates.”

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