The University of Iowa football team scored four offensive and four non-offensive touchdowns en route to a 59-3 thrashing of Western Michigan on Saturday inside Kinnick Stadium.
The 59 points are the second-most in a single game in the Kirk Ferentz era and the most points by the Hawkeyes since scoring 62 in a 62-10 victory over Northwestern on Nov. 9, 2002.
“To have four non-offensive touchdowns in a game, that’s pretty hard to explain,” said Ferentz. “I hope we didn’t use them all up. We haven’t had an abundance of big plays offensively or special teams-wise where we’ve reversed it and scored points, and that was great to see.”
Iowa piled up 446 yards of total offense, including 258 yards on the ground, while limiting Western Michigan to 209 yards and just nine first downs. Sophomore Jake Rudock finished 10-of-15 for 134 yards with two touchdowns, while junior Jordan Canzeri paced the Hawkeye rushing attack with 73 yards and a score. Eight different Iowa players had a reception with junior Damond Powell leading the squad with two catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.
The two players of the game were junior wide receiver/punt returner Kevonte Martin-Manley and senior B.J. Lowery. Martin-Manley finished with four returns for 184 yards — the second-most in a single game in school history — with two touchdowns, while Lowery picked off two Bronco passes and returned them for scores, becoming the first player to accomplish the feat in Iowa history.
Iowa dominated the first half, building a 24-0 lead before surrendering a Bronco first down. The Hawkeye defense held Western Michigan without a first down its first six possessions.
“We got off to a good fast start defensively,” said Ferentz. “I’m not sure it was every series in the first half, but it seemed like we were three-and-out, and we had really good field position as a result of that.
“(The defense) seemed like they were on task. They disrupted the quarterback pretty well. It looked like we were playing pretty physically when they were completing passes.”
Martin-Manley set up Iowa’s first score with a 44-yard punt return to the Western Michigan 22. Iowa drove 19 yards on eight plays down to the 1, but the Broncos stopped junior Mark Weisman for a 2-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 3. Senior Mike Meyer’s 20-yard chip-shot field goal made the score 3-0. The points were Iowa’s first on a game-opening drive this season.
On Iowa’s third possession, the Hawkeyes used a six-play, 45-yard drive to stretch the lead to 10-0. Iowa converted a fourth-and-3 from the Bronco 38 with a 12-yard completion to senior C.J. Fiedorowicz. Following a 5-yard Weisman rush to the 21, Rudock connected with Jacob Hillyer for a 21-yard touchdown pass. It was Hillyer’s second-straight game with a touchdown reception.
Iowa’s defense and special teams then pushed the advantage to 24-0 in a two-minute span. After the defense forced its fourth-straight three-and-out, Martin- Manley fielded a 47-yard Bronco punt at the Iowa 17 before returning it 83 yards for the score. The return tied the seventh-longest in school history and was Iowa’s first punt return for a score since Andy Brodell in 2008.
After Iowa’s defense forced its sixth-straight punt, Martin-Manley struck again, fielding J. Schroeder’s rugby-style punt at the Iowa 37 and scampering 63-yards for the touchdown. Martin-Manley is the third player in Big Ten history, and first since 1983, to have two punt returns for touchdowns in the same game.
The Broncos picked up their initial first down of the game at the 9:45 mark in the second quarter before moving 44 yards over eight plays into the red zone. On first-and-10 from the 19, senior safety Tanner Miller baited WMU quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen into a pass into the end zone, where he secured the interception to halt the drive.
Freshman running back LeShun Daniels, Jr., coughed the ball up on the first play of Iowa’s ensuing drive to set up Western Michigan’s only points of the game. After taking over at the Iowa 28, the Hawkeye defense surrendered its second first down before holding the Broncos to Andrew Haldeman’s 23-yard field goal to make the score 31-3.
The Hawkeyes pushed their lead to 38-3 at the half, scoring 14 points in a two-minute span.
Iowa’s offense used a seven-play, 65-yard drive to make the score 31-3. On third-and-3 from its own 41, Rudock connected with junior Damon Bullock on a play-action pass into the flat for 16 yards. After a holding penalty pushed Iowa into a first-and-20, Rudock rushed 31 yards on the next play to the Bronco 22 before three doses of Weisman, including a 4-yard touchdown run, put the Hawkeyes into the end zone.
Iowa’s defense got on the board with 56 seconds remaining when Lowery intercepted Tyler Van Tubbergen’s pass at the Western Michigan 35 and returned it 35 yards for the score.
On the Broncos’ first possession of the second half, Lowery stretched Iowa’s advantage to 45-3. Back-up quarterback Zach Terrell dropped back on first-and-10 from the 8, where his first attempt of the game was intercepted by and returned 13 yards for the score.
On his final possession of the afternoon, Rudock led Iowa on a nine-play, 64-yard drive to stretch the Hawkeye lead to 52-3. Rudock connected with Ray Hamilton for 16 yards on third-and-4 to move into Bronco territory and with Hamilton a second time for 19 yards on 3-and-7 to advance to the 20. The Hawkeyes then converted a third-and-19 via a 29-yard touchdown pass to Powell. It was the junior’s first career touchdown reception.
Redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard led the Hawkeyes on its final scoring drive early in the fourth quarter, covering 83 yards on eight plays. On second-and-9 from the Iowa 18, Beathard connected with Powell for a 54-yard gain to the Bronco 28. Six plays later, Canzeri’s 16-yard touchdown pushed the Hawkeye lead to 59-3 lead.
Beathard led Iowa 63 yards over 18 plays to the Western Michigan 3 over the final 9:26 before the Hawkeyes took three knees to end the contest.
Iowa (3-1) opens Big Ten play Sept. 28 at Minnesota. The game will be televised on ABC beginning at 2:30 p.m. (CT).
“We start again new tomorrow,” said Ferentz. “We haven’t done much up there in Minneapolis in a couple years, so we’ll have a big challenge on our hands.”
(release courtesy of hawkeyesports.com)