Sept. 22, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Kirk Ferentz told fans of his 2012 University of Iowa football team a few weeks ago that each game this season was going to be a battle. Saturday's 32-31 loss at historic Kinnick Stadium was exactly that because the Hawkeyes not only had to out duel an extremely competent Central Michigan team...but also themselves and some weirdness.
The visiting Chippewas won this game with a career-best 47-yard field goal by David Harman with three seconds left on the game clock. It was the junior's third three-pointer of the game and it came after a sequence of events almost too strange to describe.
The 70,000-plus that filled Kinnick and departed with a sunburn again undoubtedly thought the Hawkeyes had moved their record to 3-1 in preparation for its Big Ten Conference season opener next Saturday in Kinnick when Micah Hyde disrupted a two-point conversation attempt by the visitors that would have tied the game at 31-all with less than a minutes to play.
Then the strangeness began.
As expected, Central Michigan lined up with an onside kick attempt clearly the plan. Twice the ball was blown off the tee which forced CMU to assign a player to hold the ball in place. The third attempt was a charm for the Hawkeyes as C.J. Fiedorowicz gobbled up the pigskin.
However, the visiting team was assessed a delay of game penalty - a dead ball penalty that requires the play be repeated. This time, the Chippewas were successful, falling on the loose ball as it cross the visiting team's 42 yard line.
Two plays later, with Central Michigan facing a third-and-6 and their quarterback flushed to run for a small gain, Iowa lineman Joe Gaglione was called for a 15-yard personal foul. The call was a gift for Central Michigan. It gave the Chippewas' life in Iowa territory, well within the distance of a game-winning field goal thanks to a brisk wind out of the north and at their backs.
The penalty was Iowa's ninth of the game for 106 yards. The total included four flags for personal fouls. It was strange, however. Replays show Gaglione pancaking a CMU offensive lineman then that Chippewa laying on top of the Gaglione when the Hawkeye was attempting to get up off the Pro Turf and back to the line of scrimmage.
"Certainly not much fun for us out there today. I tell our team all the time, we get what we deserve, and that's what we got today," said Ferentz. "As did Central (Michigan). They deserved the win. They played the full 60 and made the plays you have to make to come out victorious. Give them credit. We certainly give them credit and they played extremely hard."
If they didn't know it at kickoff, the Hawkeyes probably realized that it was going to be a 60-minute effort when the Chippewas didn't blink when Iowa took the game's opening possession 72 yards on just five plays and in just 2 minutes and 28 seconds to grab a 7-0 lead when James Vandeberg hooked up with Kevonte Martin-Manley from 11 yards out for the Hawkeyes' first touchdown via the air this season.
The visitors responded with their own seven and then three more after an Iowa fumble to take a 10-7 lead. Iowa countered with a 34-yard touchdown run by Hawkeye wonder kid Mark Weisman on fourth-and-one. Central Michigan punched up 13 second quarter points to take a 23-14 lead into intermission.
Iowa's defense pitched a shutout in the third quarter. The offensive pulled with two at 23-21 when Weisman scored from five yards out. Iowa then took the lead when Mike Meyer nailed a 47-yarder into the wind. The lead stretch to eight when Weisman scored from 12 yards out with 2:18 left on the clock.
The nine points scored by the Chippewas after that Iowa score were the first fourth quarter points allowed by the Hawkeyes this season.
The final score took the shine off a brilliant day by Weisman. The bulldog carried the ball 27 times for 217 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Keenan Davis also had a big day with six catches for 88 yards and Anthony Hitchens was brilliant again on defense, registering a team-high 14 tackles like defensive back Micah Hyde.
Placekicker Mike Meyer also was perfect on all four of his point after attempts, moving his mark of consecutive made kicks to a school-record 63 in a row. The old mark was 60 by former Hawkeye All-American Nate Kaeding. Meyers' made field goal was also his ninth in 10 attempts this season.
Central Michigan won the battle of time of possession, accumulating a 13-minute advantage and was the beneficiaries of the game's only turnover. The visitors were also flagged only four times for 25 yards.
"At that point in the game, or any point in the game, it's really where you just have to keep your poise and let the referees officiate," Ferentz said when asked about the personal foul call against Gaglione that pushed CMU 15 yards closer to victory.
"I think every player has to realize if they get involved in a two way, they run the risk of being caught. Sometimes both guys get caught and other times, just one. In that situation, in particular, we just have to be a smarter team.
"I think it's uncharacteristic. I'm sure we've done it before. Just can't remember a game where we have had seven penalties that were, you know, major penalties," he added.
"I'm sure it's happened before; I can't remember it. You know, and again, if we had had a really sloppy week of practice, I would say, okay, I could see that coming, but I don't see that."
Iowa returns to Kinnick for the fourth consecutive Saturday next weekend when the Hawkeyes open their 2012 Big Ten Conference season against Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have won the annual battle for Floyd of Rosedale in the last two years with both games being played in Minneapolis. Game time is set for shortly after 11 a.m. Iowa time; the game will be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2.