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

Hawks in the NFL | Week 5

A pair of former Iowa tight ends finished with multiple touchdowns each.
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sport
Oct 8, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium.

Former Iowa tight ends were on fire this week for their respective teams’ wins as George Kittle and Sam LaPorta scored three and two touchdowns, respectively.

Kittle finished with three receptions, 67 yards, and three touchdowns in the San Francisco 49ers’ 42-10 win against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

The rookie LaPorta ended with three receptions, 47 yards, and two touchdowns in the Detroit Lions’ 42-24 win against the Carolina Panthers at home.

The two scored in nearly identical trick plays.

After the game, Kittle told ESPN commentator Scott Van Pelt that he couldn’t let LaPorta one-up him on touchdowns.

“It was a great day to be an Iowa tight end,” Kittle said.

Kittle is a four-time Pro Bowler and has developed a successful partnership with former rival Iowa State quarterback and current 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy — including Kittle serving as the recipient of 13 of Purdy’s 22 career passing touchdowns so far in his NFL career.

LaPorta, who has been the starting tight end for the Lions since the second week of the season, leads all tight ends in the league in yards and touchdowns after five weeks with 289 and three, respectively.

Fellow Lion Jack Campbell had a solid performance on the defensive side of the ball in the win, recording two tackles in backing up starting middle linebacker Alex Anzalone.

Former Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette also made an appearance in the Lions-Panthers game as a return specialist for Carolina, but he recorded only one return for three yards.

Smith-Marsette recorded 1,615 yards and 12 touchdowns for Iowa from 2017 to 2020 and was drafted in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Vikings. He won a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2023.

Getting to the QB

Buffalo Bills defensive lineman A.J. Epenesa had a huge impact despite his team’s 25-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, recording four tackles, one tackle for loss, and two sacks on Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Epenesa, who was drafted 54th overall to the Bills in the 2020 NFL Draft, has made it a career getting to the quarterback with a total of 12 sacks since he entered the league.

Bills defensive back Micah Hyde also continued his string of good performances this season in the game, accounting for six tackles, five of them solo.

Former Hawkeye O-lineman Brandon Scherff also played a pivotal role in the win for the Jaguars, helping the run game go for nearly 200 rushing yards.

Iowa linebacker Zach VanValkenburg had arguably his best game of his NFL career for the Los Angeles Rams in their 23-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, recording three tackles, one tackle for loss, and one sack.

VanValkenburg went undrafted in the 2022 NFL Draft after six-years at Iowa, finishing with 211 tackles, 42.5 for-loss, and 22 sacks while a Hawkeye.

Other notable performances:

Former Iowa defensive back Dane Belton had a nice performance for the New York Giants in their 31-16 loss against the Miami Dolphins, recording five tackles.

Belton was drafted in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft and has recorded 33 total tackles and two interceptions since entering the league.

Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson had a solid game in his team’s 27-20 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs, catching five balls for 51 yards, but it again was not enough as the Vikings fell to 1-4 on the season.

Former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell had a solid outing for the Denver Broncos in their 31-21 loss to the New York Jets, finishing the game with five tackles.

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About the Contributor
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.