Nov. 19, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The University of Iowa football team won't be reminded of its road woes any longer. The Hawkeyes picked up their first road victory of the season, posting a 31-21 win at Purdue on a windy Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
"It's good to get the win and being on the road makes it that much better," said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. "We knew it was going to be a tough challenge. Credit goes to our players, they fought and battled hard. It wasn't a pretty game, but they really worked hard."
The Hawkeyes led 21-14 at the half, and built a 31-14 advantage early in the fourth quarter. The Boilermakers cut the deficit to 10 points with 12 minutes remaining and appeared to go in for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but quarterback Robert Marve fumbled when reaching for the goal line, which was ruled a touchback, giving Iowa its seventh victory of the season.
"It's great to get that monkey off our back," said junior quarterback James Vandenberg. "This was a great team win all around."
The Hawkeye offense piled up 408 yards of total offense. Vandenberg completed 22-of-32 attempts for 273 yards and three touchdowns, and sophomore Marcus Coker had 30 carries for 139 yards and a score. Senior Marvin McNutt, Jr., and junior Keenan Davis combined for 16 receptions for 214 yards. McNutt had nine grabs for 151 yards and two touchdowns, while Davis has seven grabs for 63 yards.
The UI defense limited Purdue to 282 yards of total offense and forced four Boilermaker turnovers. Seniors Mike Daniels and Broderick Binns were forces on the defensive line. Daniels had eight tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks, while Binns had seven stops and a sack. Sophomore Tanner Miller had a pair of interceptions.
"When they (Daniels and Binns) have it going, it sure makes our whole defense better," said Ferentz. "It is sure easier playing defense when the guys up front are getting it done. It was good to see and hopefully we can keep that going one more week."
After Purdue recovered a fumble in the end zone to even the score at 14 late in the second quarter, the Hawkeyes weathered the shift in momentum by driving 70 yards over four minutes to regain the lead. Vandenberg connected with Davis for 14 yards and McNutt for 11 on consecutive plays to move the ball near midfield.
Purdue forced a fourth and 1 at the 36, but Coker rumbled 7 yards to move the chains and keep the drive alive. Later in the drive, Coker got the call on second and goal from the 2, and he found the end zone with 31 seconds remaining in the half to make the score 21-14.
Iowa extended its lead midway through the third quarter courtesy of Meyer's 38 yard field goal. Miller's second interception of the game set up the Hawkeyes final touchdown of the game. After taking over on the 45 on Miller's pick, Coker rushed for 4 yards on first down on the final play of the third quarter.
The Hawkeyes' first play of the fourth went for a 51-yard strike from Vandenberg to McNutt. With the defensive end bearing down, Vandenberg tossed a dart slightly behind McNutt, but the senior got his mitt on the ball, flipped it up to himself to snag it before out running Purdue safety Logan Link for the score.
On its following possession, Purdue went 58 yards on eight plays to cut the deficit to 31-21. Raheem Mostert returned the kickoff 48 yards to give the Boilermakers solid field position at their 42. TerBush then completed 4-of-5 passes to move Purdue to the 11 yard line before Ralph Bolden ran in from 11 yards out for the score.
After three empty possessions, Purdue took over at midfield with 3:21 remaining. The Boilermakers kept their hopes alive when Marve completed a pass to Antavian Edison for 22 yards on fourth and 18 to move the ball to the Iowa 36. After advancing to the 9, Marve rushed for 8 yards, before losing control when reaching for the pylon. The Hawkeyes gained possession when instant replay reversed the touchdown call and ruled it a touchback. Iowa then kneeled on three plays to secure the win.
The Hawkeyes opened the game sharp, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions. Vandenberg completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to McNutt on the game's first possession to cap off an eight play, 80 yard drive.
The Boilermakers answered to even the game at seven with a 13-play, 63 yard drive. Purdue converted a third and 7 from midfield and a total of three third down conversions, including a third and 7 from the 14 when starting quarterback Caleb TerBush found tight end Gabe Holmes for a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Vandenberg continued where he left, completing 4-of-5 attempts for the second straight possession. Facing a third and 6 from the 38, Vandenberg found C.J. Fiedorowicz for a 13 yard gain to move into Boilermaker territory. Coker used runs of 9, 8 and 4 yards to move the ball to the Purdue 32 before McNutt caught a quick screen for 21 yards, moving to the 2.
After Coker was stuffed for losses on consecutive downs, Vandenberg connected with Fiedorowicz for the 5 yard touchdown pass, making the score, 14-7. It was his second touchdown in as many games. Vandenberg completed 8-of-his-first-10 passes for 105 yards and two scores.
Iowa collected its first turnover on the ensuing kickoff when Purdue's Brandon Cottom muffed a fair catch attempt off when the wind held up Meyer's kickoff. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens recovered the fumble, giving the Hawkeyes possession on the Purdue 33, but Iowa couldn't capitalize.
McNutt bobbled a sure touchdown reception on first and 10 from the 23. After the drive stalled, Meyer missed his 34-yard field goal attempt, as the ball bounced off the right upright.
The Iowa defense clamped down on the Boilermakers, forcing the game's second turnover. Back-to-back sacks by Binns and Daniels forced a Purdue punt. Boilkermaker punter Carson Wiggs ran to the right to attempt a rugby style kick, but it was blocked by Kyle Steinbrecher and recovered by Collin Sleeper at the Purdue 9.
Freshman running back Mika'il McCall trotted onto the field to make his first appearance since suffering an ankle injury on Sept. 3. After gaining 3 yards on his first carry, McCall fumbled the handoff from Vandenberg, and Purdue's Will Lucas pounced on the ball on the 5.
After trading kicks, Purdue took over with six minutes to go in the half, and Marve drove the Boilermakers down to the Iowa 19. Two plays later, Marve's pass attempt to O.J. Ross was tipped at the 5, allowing Miller to snag the interception at the 1.
On Iowa's first play from its own end zone, Vandenberg dropped back on a play action pass, but he was bottled up by the Boilermaker defensive line. Just prior to being taken down for the safety, the ball popped out on to the turf where Purdue defensive lineman Brandon Taylor recovered for the touchdown to even the score at 14 all.
Iowa (7-4, 4-3) closes out the regular season at Nebraska on Friday in the inaugural "Heroes Game" in Lincoln. Game time is set for 11 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.
"We're going to try and rally the troops this week," said Ferentz. "We're going to go into a very tough environment against a very good football team. I really feel like anybody can beat anybody in this conference. We'll see if we can put a good plan together and go over and play hard."