Rushing game picks up in second half of Hawkeye victory

Running back Tyler Goodson finished with 111 rushing yards in Iowa’s 26-20 win.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa running back Tyler Goodson carries the ball during a football game between Iowa and Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 26-20.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa only ran for 35 yards in the first half against Nebraska on Friday. Which, for the run-heavy and sometimes run-dependent Hawkeyes, wasn’t a promising start.

But the Iowa running game picked up in the second half, in large part because of Iowa’s leading running back, Tyler Goodson. The sophomore finished with 111 yards on a career-high 30 carries in Iowa’s 26-20 victory.

After Nebraska scored a touchdown on its first drive of the second half to go ahead by seven, Iowa showed that it could emphasize and establish the running game. On the ensuing drive, Goodson started off with a seven-yard rush. He ended up gaining 23 more yards on that drive, which ended when Mekhi Sargent scored a two-yard TD.

“It’s always important for us to establish the rush,” Goodson said. “Especially this game. For us set the tone, for us to get the ball moving and as we kept running, we kept progressing.”

The Suwanee, Georgia, native kept running hard throughout the second half. Though his rushes weren’t for big time yards, they still made a significant difference, helping push Keith Duncan into position to hit two field goals to give Iowa the lead and eventually extend it.

Goodson’s 30 carries were more than he typically gets in a game, which he said he is OK with.

In the first quarter, the Hawkeyes ran for only 10 yards. Only one yard came from Goodson.

The running game did pick up slightly in the second quarter, with Goodson having 13-yard and 11-yard rushes that helped lead to a Keith Duncan field goal.

Though those runs didn’t go for as long as Goodson has accomplished in previous games, it didn’t hamper his attitude, which did help him in the second half.

“It’s not frustrating,” Goodson said. “After a couple runs in the first half, I knew the game would be a tough running game so it was all about keeping my head clear and staying focus and know that the offensive line, the guys up front in front of me will get the job done and we’ll be able to break a couple runs going into the second half.”

The Nebraska defense gave Iowa some confusing looks in the first half, quarterback Spencer Petras said, but Iowa of course did figure in the second half.

“I thought the staff made some good adjustments, made some good tweaks,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We went out and played a little bit more effectively and ran the ball a little bit more efficiently in that second half for sure.”

Jack Plumb made his first start of his career at right tackle after Mark Kallenberger couldn’t play becuase of an injury. After the game he talked about Iowa’s offensive identity when it comes to running the ball.

“We like pounding the ball,” Plumb said. “It’s tough, Iowa football, we like doing that. So, when we can get the ground game going, we like running it.”

After the Nebraska game, Iowa has 1,037 rushing yards on the season. Goodson has 564 of those yards, and he also has six touchdowns. Sargent has seven touchdowns, which leads the team.

The No. 24 Hawkeyes are 4-2 on the season after four consecutive Big Ten victories.

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