Turnovers save the day for Iowa

Iowa’s defense came away with two big turnovers that could have turned into potential game-winning points for Purdue on Saturday.

Iowa+defensive+back+Matt+Hankins+loses+the+ball+during+the+Iowa+football+game+against+Purdue+at+Kinnick+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+19%2C+2019.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Boilermakers+26-20.
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Turnovers save the day for Iowa

Iowa defensive back Matt Hankins loses the ball during the Iowa football game against Purdue at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers 26-20.

Iowa defensive back Matt Hankins loses the ball during the Iowa football game against Purdue at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers 26-20.

Katina Zentz

Iowa defensive back Matt Hankins loses the ball during the Iowa football game against Purdue at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers 26-20.

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

Iowa defensive back Matt Hankins loses the ball during the Iowa football game against Purdue at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers 26-20.

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

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On the first drive of the second quarter, Geno Stone forced a fumble on Purdue’s Amad Anderson at Iowa’s nine-yard line. Matt Hankins recovered it in what would be the biggest, potentially game-defining play of the day, as Iowa went on to beat Purdue, 26-20, on Saturday.

At that point, Iowa was playing with a 6-0 lead after Keith Duncan nailed two field goals on its first two drives.

The offense made it downfield easily but stalled as it got into Purdue territory and couldn’t capitalize, something that has been prevalent in the past two weeks.

“Unfortunately, we kicked more field goals than we wanted to,” Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley said. “They did a lot of things that were really tough on our offensive line.”

The running game struggled to get going in the first half, gaining 46 yards on 19 carries. Twelve of those yards came from Stanley, who carried the ball three times with one of them going for nine yards. With the loss of that major asset of the offense, Iowa converted only 2-of-7 third downs.

With a 9-7 lead coming out of halftime, things needed to shift.

On Purdue’s first drive, Riley Moss leaped up to grab a Jack Plummer pass out of the air and come down with Iowa’s second turnover of the game, again in Iowa territory.

Going into the game with Purdue’s pass-heavy scheme in mind, Iowa’s secondary was focused on those chances to get big takeaways to give its offense the ball back.

“Those turnovers gave us a lot of confidence, a lot of energy, so we can build off that,” Iowa cornerback Michael Ojemudia said. “It comes with a turnover; just help the offense out because they had some bad fielding a couple plays this game, so we can help them out that’s a plus for us.”

To answer the turnover, the offense put up seven points on its first rushing touchdown since Sept. 28 against Middle Tennessee.

A 21-yard pass to Tyrone Tracy set Iowa up at Purdue’s one-yard line. Two rushing attempts later, the ball hadn’t moved, until Tyler Goodson was handed his second carry of the day. He leaped over the line into the end zone for his first-career touchdown.

“There’s no quit in that guy; he’s going to compete, he’s going to fight to the end, and the ball’s not going to stop coming his way because he’s a playmaker,” Stanley said. “Him being a young guy doesn’t set the tone for him mentally and physically.”

The Hawkeyes put up 10 points in the fourth quarter with Duncan’s final field goal of the day, and with Purdue inching closer on Iowa’s 19-13 lead, another rushing touchdown.

Mekhi Sargent ran for a total of 35 yards on two plays for the touchdown, his team-leading third rushing touchdown on the season.

“Coming into the game, we talked about the importance of scoring touchdowns,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Not only getting in the red zone but scoring touchdowns because it is huge, especially in conference play.”

With 24 seconds to play Purdue brought the score within one possession, but with Sargent’s touchdown Iowa had the game out of reach to improve to 5-2 on the season and 2-2 in the Big Ten.

Iowa will hit the road next week to take on Northwestern in Evanston on Oct. 26 at 11 a.m.

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