Iowa football’s defense stands tall, outscores South Dakota State in season-opener

The Hawkeyes accrued two safeties, one field goal, and zero touchdowns in the Week 1 win.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell tackles South Dakota State running back Isaiah Davis for a safety during a football game between Iowa and South Dakota State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Jackrabbits, 7-3.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa’s defense did more celebrating in the end zone than its offense did Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes scored two safeties in the second half of their 7-3 win over the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

Sophomore placekicker Aaron Blom was the only offensive player to score for Iowa, cashing in on a 46-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter. Blom finished the game 1-of-2 on FGAs, as he missed his first attempt from 40 yards out.

Iowa’s lack of offensive production was masked by its lockdown defense. SDSU’s only score of the game came on a 44-yard field goal by junior kicker Hunter Dustman.

The Jackrabbit field goal was set up by an interception Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras threw near the 50-yard line.

In total, SDSU tallied six first downs on the day. The Jackrabbits ran just eight of their 57 total offensive plays on Iowa’s side of the field. Seven of those eight plays came immediately after Petras’ interception.

Iowa’s defense outscored its and South Dakota State’s offenses, forcing 11 punts, seven three-and-outs, and eight tackles for loss.

“Defense stepped up,” Iowa cornerback Terry Roberts said. “We put a couple fires out. D-line got pressure, on the back end, we stayed over the top. We made plays.”

Senior linebacker Jack Campbell, who led Iowa with 12 tackles and accounted for one of the day’s two safeties, said Saturday’s performance was not surprising for him or his teammates. Campbell noted that forcing turnovers and scoring on defense are basic expectations at Iowa.

“The standard’s been set,” Campbell said postgame. “We always talk about that with [defensive coordinator Phil Parker and linebackers coach Seth Wallace], all these guys that have come before us have kind of laid the foundation. Now, it’s just like, guys will recycle and keep doing this and that’s kind of like our goal. We want to be a group that just continues to play coach Parker defense.”

The Hawkeyes needed every bit of their impressive defensive effort on Saturday. Petras and the Iowa offense mustered just 166 yards of total offense and 10 first downs. The only time Iowa had the ball inside the SDSU 20-yard-line, running back LeShon Williams coughed it up and the Jackrabbits took over possession at their own 10-yard line.

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The Jackrabbits only managed 120 yards of offense, 33 on the ground and 87 through the air. Iowa held SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski, who was the 2020 FCS Freshman of the Year, to 10-of-26 passing on the day.

“We signed up to just go out there every single play, no matter the situation, the score, you’re gonna go out there and bust it,” Campbell. “We’re going to be smart, we’re gonna play physical, every single snap, and I think that’s kind of the mindset that we all have right now.”

The South Dakota State offense didn’t just have to face the Iowa defense, however. The FCS bunch that plays its home games in a stadium with less than 20,000 capacity also had to contend with 70,000 raucous, loud Hawkeye fans who had a clear impact on the contest.

The majority of the Jackrabbits’ 12 penalties came via false start, partially because of crowd noise.

In fact, SDSU was called for back-to-back false starts before it ran its first play from scrimmage.

“It’s the best stadium in college football right now,” Roberts said of Kinnick. “Best atmosphere, hands down, best fans, everything. You can’t ask for anything better with Kinnick.”