Halftime reactions: Iowa and Nebraska tied at 13 through 30 minutes of game time

Iowa got out to a 10-0 lead but Nebraska bounced back and put its own points on the board.

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Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa wideout Charlie Jones returns a punt during a football game between Iowa and Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read and Isaac Goffin


Iowa and Nebraska are tied at 13 at halftime of the 2020 Heroes Game at Kinnick Stadium.

The Hawkeyes got out to an early 10-0 lead. Nebraska scored 13 points in the second quarter, while Iowa tacked on another field goal to lock things up through 30 minutes of game time.

Here are reactions from DI Pregame Editor Robert Read and Assistant Sports Editor Isaac Goffin halfway through the game.

Hawkeyes need to get the run game going

Nebraska’s defense is giving up over 200 rushing yards per game this season, but Iowa hasn’t had much success running the ball so far on Friday.

The Hawkeyes have 35 rushing yards on 17 attempts in the first half. Starting running back Tyler Goodson has only 24 yards rushing on 11 carries. In Iowa’s last three games, all victories, its ground game has dominated. Nebraska noticed and is stacking the box and putting the game into Spencer Petras’ hands.

That game plan is working so far. Iowa’s starting signal caller is 12-of-19 for 139 yards and a touchdown, but threw an ugly interception to set Nebraska up with good field position. Luckily for Iowa, the team’s defense held Nebraska to a field goal. Petras’ touchdown was to a wide open Tyrone Tracy in the end zone off of play action. Petras didn’t get much help from his receiver Nico Ragaini, who dropped a touchdown in the end zone and forced Iowa to settle for a field goal.

Iowa’s identity as an offense is built on its running game. It needs to get back to that. Currently, Iowa’s game plan is putting too much pressure on Petras, pressure he’s not ready to deal with yet.

Keep giving Goodson and Mekhi Sargent the ball and let your offensive line dominate up front, Iowa.

– Robert Read

Special teams up to par

Field position can make a huge difference in a drive and a game.

For Iowa, this was evident when Charlie Jones returned a punt 31 yards to the Nebraska 46-yard line in the first quarter. The punt went 42 yards.

With the Hawkeyes in great field position, Spencer Petras was able to complete a few nice passes. One was for six yards to Tyrone Tracy, who was open in the end zone for a touchdown.

Before the game, Jones had 13 punt returns for 155 yards and a touchdown on the season. Against Michigan State on Nov. 7, he had 105 punt return yards and a touchdown.

But before Jones had that great punt return, the Hawkeyes had a great punt. Deciding to punt from the Nebraska 37-yard line, Tory Taylor showed he could make a short punt successful, as he punted it to around the 10-yard line and then it bounced toward the end zone where it was downed at the two-yard line.

Going back to the first drive of the game, it all started from Iowa when Nebraska decided to kick the opening kickoff short, allowing Ivory Kelly-Martin to return it to the Iowa 32-yard line after running 17 yards.

On the opening drive, the Hawkeyes made some nice plays before getting shut down in the red zone. But then Keith Duncan showed off his kicking abilities and made a 32-yard field goal. It wouldn’t be his last time making a field goal in the first half, as he made one from 33 yards in the second quarter.

Duncan was six-of-nine on field goals in 2020 before the game.

– Isaac Goffin

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