No. 9 Iowa is dominant in football season-opener, 37-7
Sept. 4, 2010
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A tale of two Panthers; that's the difference between season-opening football wins for the University of Iowa in 2009 compared to Saturday in Kinnick Stadium.
A year ago the Hawkeyes blocked two field goals in the waning seconds to defeat the Northern Iowa Panthers, 17-16. This year it took all of 160 ticks of the clock for Iowa to demonstrate its dominance over the Eastern Illinois Panthers during a 37-7 win for the No. 9 team in the land.
"We're very happy with the win," UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "All-in-all, I think we're all pleased. It was good we got to play a lot of guys in the fourth quarter."
It was the opener for both programs and it turned out to be the 10th consecutive time that a Kirk Ferentz-coached team has started a season with a W.
UI sophomore running back Adam Robinson gained 109 yards on 24 carries and scored on runs of 6, 4 and 2 yards. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi completed 18 of 23 passes for 229 yards and capped the game's scoring with a 1-yard toss to fullback Brett Morse.
"Adam, as much as anybody, gave us a great spark," Ferentz said. "He gave us a real spark out there and helped our young offensive line."
Iowa's well-balanced offense rolled to 435 yards and limited Eastern Illinois to 157. Senior defensive tackle Karl Klug and junior linebacker Tyler Nielsen led the Hawkeye defense with six tackles apiece.
The 30-point victory is the largest margin for the Hawkeyes since a 32-point win last season in Ames.
"I wouldn't mind trying to get used to it," Ferentz said about having breathing room on the scoreboard at the end of games.
"It wasn't a 70-7 game," Eastern Illinois head coach Bob Spoo said. "I really think we played hard. I thought we played them tough and I thought we played extremely well and I'm proud of them."
Even with 12 players on the field, Eastern Illinois couldn't keep the Hawkeyes from the end zone on the game's opening possession. Stanzi marched Iowa 65 yards in six plays with Robinson scoring from 2 yards out on with 12:20 left in the quarter. The Panthers had 12 players on the field during the scoring rush.
Stanzi was 3-for-3 passing on the series for 54 yards; the biggest gain was a 35-yarder to a wide open Brad Herman that took the ball to the Eastern Illinois 2. It was Herman's second career reception.
Robinson had five touches on the second Iowa possession -- an 8-play, 56-yard scoring drive. He rushed four times for 27 yards and converted on third down with an 8-yard reception from Stanzi. Stanzi was again 3-for-3 through the air for 30 yards.
Paki O'Meara did his best Adrian Clayborn-at-Penn State, block-and-bolt routine with Panther punter Kevin Cook standing at his own 35. O'Meara got a hand on the kick before scooping it at the 16 and scoring with 53 seconds left in the quarter. It is the first time the Hawkeyes scored 21 points in the opening 15 minutes since a 42-0 win against Florida International on Sept. 6, 2008.
"Paki's effort on the punt was certainly one of the highlights," Ferentz said. "It was a double big play and it was good to see. He's a guy who has done such a great job in our program and he's done a great job very quietly for us on special teams. It's nice for him to get some recognition."
Eastern Illinois used trickery and two pass completions to cut the deficit to 21-7. On fourth-and-4 from their own 20, the Panthers snapped to blocking back Cody Bruns, who broke through for a 36-yard gain. On the next play Eastern Illinois quarterback Brandon Large hooked up with Chris Wright, who got behind Hawkeye cornerback Micah Hyde for a 37-yard gain. Two plays later Large completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Von Wise.
Iowa answered with an 8-play, 60-yard scoring drive highlighted by some nifty and powerful running by Robinson. It didn't come without a tense moment: on first down, Stanzi rolled to his right, stumbled on the turf and hobbled to the sideline after a 3-yard "sack." He was replaced by James Vandenberg, perhaps the finest reserve quarterback in the country. The Hawkeyes didn't miss a beat, thanks mostly to Robinson, who carried the ball six times for 39 yards. He scored on a 6-yard run with 8:39 left in the half.
A sack by defensive tackle Mike Daniels (for 13 yards) forced an Eastern Illinois punt. Stanzi returned and completed 5-of-7 passes, but the drive stalled at the Panther 40 on the next series.
Robinson's 79 yards on the ground and three touchdowns were the biggest bright spot during Iowa's 28-7 first-half advantage. The Hawkeyes outgained Eastern Illinois, 211 to 126 and had three times as many first downs (12 to 4). Stanzi was 11 of 13 for 134 yards with Herman and Colin Sandeman catching three apiece.
A center-quarterback exchange mishap led to the first turnover of the game with Iowa knocking on the door for another touchdown. On third-and-1 from the 2, Eastern Illinois recovered the Hawkeye fumble, but three plays later, they would return the favor in the form of a 2-point gift for Iowa. On third down from the 4, Large tried to pass to a back out of the backfield; the aerial was not only off target, but it was a backward lateral that skipped out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
The Hawkeyes extended their lead to 30 points after Stanzi connected with Morse on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 8:27 left in the game. Robinson was again the workhorse, rushing four times for 16 yards and catching one pass for 20. During the series Robinson surpassed the 100-yard rushing total for the third time in his career.
The Hawkeye understudies played the final eight minutes of the game.
Iowa hosts Iowa State (1-0) on Sept. 11 with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff inside Kinnick Stadium. The game will be televised by ABC. The Hawkeyes have won the last two meetings -- 35-3 last season in Ames and 17-5 in 2008 in Iowa City.