The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa defeats Western Michigan, 41-10, to finish non-conference play undefeated

In spite of two turnovers in the first half, the Hawkeyes scored 17 points in the third quarter on a 27-0 run in second half.
Grace Smith
Iowa wide receiver Diante Vines catches a pass for a touchdown during the first half of a football game between Iowa and Western Michigan at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (Grace Smith/The Daily Iowan)

No. 25 Iowa football defeated Western Michigan, 41-10, to close out its non-conference schedule. Now at 3-0, the Hawkeyes overcame a two-turnover first half and an injury to tight end Luke Lachey with timely defense and efficiency within the red zone.  

The Hawkeyes appeared to have some momentum in their opening drive with three straight rushes for 17 yards, all of which occurred on three tight end sets. Then, the life got sucked out of Kinnick Stadium, as Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara’s pass for receiver Nico Ragaini was snagged by Bronco safety Anthony Enechukwu for an interception. 

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After the turnover, the Hawkeye defense responded promptly with a three-and-out, yielding just one yard to the Broncos. Yet on the ensuing Iowa drive, McNamara was sacked for a 15-yard loss on third-and-three, forcing the first punt of the day for Tory Taylor. 

The Broncos’ next drive was defined by two big plays, with the first being a 29-yard QB draw from Treyson Bourguet. Then, two plays later, Bourguet found Bronco receiver Anthony Sambucci for a 64-yard touchdown pass along the left sideline. 

Just seven minutes into the game, Iowa found itself in a 7-0 hole. 

“We understood that it was us, that we were beating ourselves at that point,” Iowa linebacker Jay Higgins said of the team’s mood during the intermission. “I felt that the problems were extremely solvable. Anxiety never got high and guys never pointed fingers.” 

Following a thirty-minute lightning delay, Iowa’s offense ran into more adversity, as starting tight end Luke Lachey injured his right ankle attempting to catch a pass on third down. The junior was helped off the field by trainers and did not return to action. 

The Colombus, Ohio, native was on the field at the end of the game but wasn’t in uniform and was sporting a walking boot and crutches.

“It’s part of the game,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said of the injury postgame. “We all understand how that works, but it’s just as disappointing. There’s not a better guy in our program than Luke, he’s such a good guy.”

After the incompletion, Hawkeye kicker Drew Stevens’ 41-yard field goal sailed wide left. After a Western Michigan punt, the Hawkeyes delivered a five-play, 66-yard drive encapsulated by a 53-yard run from Leshon Williams that put Iowa in the red zone. On third-and-goal, McNamara found a wide-open Diante Vines on a crossing route for a score, the first of his career.  

“I thought [Vines] was joking when he told me it was his first touchdown,” McNamara said. “I was like, ‘There’s no way, you’re joking … That’s insane, I’m so happy for you.'”

Once again, the following Bronco drive was defined with one big play. In this case: a 43-yard completion to receiver Blake Bosma. Outside of that completion, Western Michigan averaged just 3.2 yards per play on the drive. The Broncos got all the way to the Hawkeyes’ 11-yard line before stalling out with two stuffed runs and an incompletion, settling for a 27-yard field goal to retake the lead. 

After both teams exchanged punts, Iowa only needed one play to find the end zone. On first down, McNamara hit running back Leshon Williams on a screen pass. Hitting the open field alongside center Logan Jones, Williams dashed up the sideline for a 25-yard score and a Hawkeye lead.

McNamara said he feigned a downfield attempt on the play in order to move the Bronco D-Line away from Williams. The quarterback added that he knew the play would be a touchdown as soon as he threw the ball, crediting the “specimen,” Iowa center Logan Jones for keeping with Williams as the lead blocker downfield.

Iowa had another chance to score before halftime, but McNamara’s pass to Seth Anderson was picked off by Bronco cornerback Keni-H Lovely to cap the action in the first half. 

Iowa’s defense set the tone for the Hawkeyes coming out of the break, forcing a three-and-out. On the Broncos’ punt attempt, Hawkeye defensive lineman Anterio Thompson broke through the line of scrimmage untouched to block punter Cameron Peasley. Thompson smacked the ball into the back of the end zone for a Hawkeye safety. 

That play was just the start of an offensive explosion for the Hawkeyes, who scored 17 points in the third quarter alone. Following the safety, Iowa embraced the ground game with a six-play touchdown drive of all run plays, culminating in a three-yard score for true freshman running back Kamari Moulton, who was assisted by a block from tight end Erick All. 

Iowa opted for a two-point attempt after the score and converted on a Cade McNamara pass to All to put the Hawkeyes ahead, 24-10. 

It didn’t take long for Moulton to find the end zone again, as Nick Jackson’s forced fumble set the Hawkeyes up deep in Bronco territory. After fumbling at the one-yard line that was recovered by Iowa, Moulton got the ball on the very next play and crossed the goal line for a score. 

“He’s just such a positive guy that everyone enjoys being around in the locker room,” McNamara said of Moulton. “So for him to have some success today, we’re definitely happy that that happened.”

Western Michigan appeared to answer back with a touchdown of its own, but Bourguet’s 60-yard bomb to receiver Jehlani Galloway was called back because the Broncos had an ineligible receiver downfield.

The Hawkeyes added some insurance late in the game, as backup QB Deacon Hill led a 33-yard drive culminating in a score from backup running back Max White.

“He’s a guy who comes in every single day and works his tail off, no matter the circumstance,” Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean said of White, his roommate.

After the play, DeJean was visibly excited for his fellow Iowa native and shared some words with White after the play.

“I was just telling him how proud I was,” DeJean said.

That 60-yard pass was all the offensive firepower Western Michigan could muster in the second half, as the Hawkeyes went on a 27-0 run over the final thirty minutes of the game. Iowa went 5-for-5 in the red zone and collected 397 total yards on offense. The Hawkeyes’ 41 points were their most since 2021.

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About the Contributors
Matt McGowan
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.