Stanley steps up in fourth-quarter dominance

Through the first half, Nate Stanley had 27 passing yards. Then, he stepped up to throw for 102 yards in the fourth quarter alone.

Iowa+quarterback+Nate+Stanley+drops+back+to+pass+during+a+football+game+between+Iowa+and+Wisconsin+at+Camp+Randall+Stadium+in+Madison+on+Saturday%2C+November+9%2C+2019.+The+Badgers+defeated+the+Hawkeyes%2C+24-22.

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley drops back to pass during a football game between Iowa and Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Saturday, November 9, 2019. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes, 24-22.

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

MADISON, Wis. — Iowa quarterback and three-year starter Nate Stanley stepped off the field in his final college game in his home state with 249 passing yards in two games, most of which came in the fourth quarter of a Wisconsin defense-dominated contest to decide which teams would continue in the Big Ten West race with Minnesota.

He entered the Nov. 9 contest with just 41 career passing yards in Camp Randall Stadium under his belt from 2017.

With just 93 yards of offense in the first half — including only 27 coming through the air — compared with Wisconsin’s 211, Iowa’s 14-6 deficit going into halftime looked as if it would be enough to do the Hawkeyes in. Then the production picked up, and Stanley threw for 79 yards in the third quarter alone.

“We just came out, and we executed,” wide receiver Tyrone Tracy said. “We try to focus on the little details, and the fundamentals of football, and our route as a wide receiver corps, so when we do get the ball passed to us, we’re at our spot and the timing is great. That’s what happened in the second half.”

Trailing 21-6, the Hawkeyes almost doubled their total of passing yards through the first three quarters in the fourth, tallying 102 after going into the final frame with 106.

Stanley completed 6-of-11 passes, averaged an explosive 34.7 yards per completion, and threw for 2 touchdowns, including a 75-yard pass that brought the Hawkeyes as close as they got to the Badgers, 24-22, with slightly more than three minutes left in the game.

“We were kind of up and down a little bit in the first half,” Stanley said. “Early in the second half, I think the tempo just let us get in a rhythm.”

Despite the low production from a numbers standpoint, the team’s confidence in Stanley and the passing game never faltered.

Once the rhythm was back on track, he connected with his receivers to mount a comeback that came just inches short on a 2-point conversion.

“We felt confident during the whole game that we’d be able to put up some more points on the board,” Stanley said.

Iowa quarterbacks have thrown for more than 200 yards in four of their nine games in Camp Randall with head coach Kirk Ferentz at the helm. While Stanley had merely 41 yards in Wisconsin in 2017, he threw for 256 yards last season at Kinnick against a team that wasn’t all that different from the one he saw on Nov. 9.

“I thought he competed hard and gave us a chance to win, led our football team — he’s been doing that pretty much his whole career,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s a better player now than he was two years ago.”

Even as the clock was wound down and the defense battled on the field, Stanley’s drive didn’t stop, and that’s something that’s been evident whether he throws for 300 yards or 50.

“He never gives up,” Tracy said. “Even when they had the ball with like a minute left, he was still saying, ‘Still got a chance, still got a chance.’ He’s a competitor. He’s a leader.”

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