Iowa football wins unconventional season-opener against South Dakota State, 7-3

No touchdowns were scored by the Jackrabbits or the Hawkeyes Saturday. Iowa’s points came from two safeties and a field goal.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras throws the ball during a football game between Iowa and South Dakota State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. The score at halftime was tied, 3-3.

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

Offense was optional Saturday afternoon at Kinnick Stadium, as the Iowa football team won its season-opener against South Dakota State, 7-3. The only offensive players to score were placekickers Aaron Blom and Hunter Dustman.

Blom produced the Hawkeyes’ lone offensive score of the game just six minutes into the first quarter. Iowa entered the red zone just once on the game. The Hawkeyes’ drive deep in Jackrabbit territory ended via a Leshon Williams lost fumble. 

Dustman scored South Dakota State’s only points of the game with 20 seconds remaining in the first half, converting on a 44-yard field goal attempt.

In total, the Hawkeyes’ offense produced just 166 yards. Quarterback Spencer Petras finished the game 11-of-25 for 109 yards. The 6-foot-5, 231-pounder also threw an interception at the 3:16 mark in the second quarter.

Excluding Petras, Iowa’s leader in total yardage was Arland Bruce. The sophomore wideout caught five passes for 68 yards. Williams was the Hawkeyes’ leader out of the backfield, amassing 24 yards on 72 carries.

The Hawkeyes were without three offensive starters on Saturday. Sophomore Keagan Johnson, who missed time during Iowa’s fall and summer camps, did not play. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that Johnson’s status has been touch-and-go.

Johnson missed the 2022 Citrus Bowl with a non-COVID-19-related illness. He had not missed any contest due to injury or illness prior to that game.

Sophomore running back Gavin Williams also did not play. He appeared at Duke Slater Field for warmups in street clothes. The Des Moines Register’s Chad Leistikow reported Williams is dealing with an ankle injury.

Nico Ragaini, a senior wideout, was scratched from Saturday’s game early in the week. On Monday, Ragaini did not appear on the Hawkeyes’ weekly depth chart. At his Tuesday press conference, Ferentz said he anticipates Ragaini to miss “a couple weeks.”

Masking the Hawkeyes’ offensive injuries and deficiencies was punter Tory Taylor, who booted the ball 10 times for 479 yards. Seven of Taylor’s punts were downed inside the 20-yard line. Only two of his kicks rolled into the end zone for touchbacks.

Taylor’s theatrics helped set up two decisive scores made by Iowa’s defense. With 4:09 on the game clock in the third quarter, Hawkeye linebacker Jack Campbell tackled Jackrabbit running back Isaiah Davis in the SDSU end zone for a safety.

The safety Campbell forced proved to be one of two on the game. With less than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Hawkeye defensive end Joe Evans sacked SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski in the Jackrabbit end zone.

Iowa’s defense held South Dakota State 163 yards. The Jackrabbits’ starting quarterback, Mark Gronowski, went 10-of-26 for 87 yards.

With the unconventional, touchdown-less win, the Hawkeyes move to 1-0 on the season. Iowa will welcome Iowa State to Kinnick Stadium at 3 p.m. for the annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk game.