Nov. 23, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa football team overcame four turnovers and a 21-7 halftime deficit to down Michigan, 24-21, Saturday afternoon on Senior Day inside Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes have beaten the Wolverines in three-straight home games for the first time in school history.
"It started with the defense, it kept us alive," said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. "Typically, you're not going to win when you lose that lopsidedly in the turnover battle."
After taking over at its own 34 with 10:56 remaining, the Hawkeyes used a nine-play, 50-yard drive to take its first lead of the game. Sophomore Jake Rudock opened the series with consecutive completions to sophomore Tevaun Smith for 21 and 5 yards to move the ball to the Michigan 40.
Sophomore Jordan Canzeri followed with a pair of rushes for 5 and 8 yards to the 35 before junior Mark Weisman bulldozed his way for a 4-yard gain to pick up a first down at the 23. Iowa pounded its way to the 17, but Weisman was stopped on third-and-2 from the 15, setting up senior Mike Meyer's 34-yard field goal to give the Hawkeyes a 24-21 lead.
"That was a great drive," said Ferentz. "That third down call of Jake's and the check was a big play. I can't say enough about Mike Meyer, he was not having a great day, and we didn't get the one down on the second one.
"He nailed it. I never had any doubt. Mike's such a tremendous guy, so I am really happy for him as well."
Michigan moved 39 yards into Iowa territory before the Hawkeyes came away with a crucial turnover -- their first of the day. Wolverine quarterback Devin Gardner connected with Jeremy Jackson on third-and-8 to move the ball to midfield. Two plays later, Michigan executed a screen to perfection, and it went for a 13-yard gain to Fitzgerald Toussaint to the 38, putting the Iowa defense on its heels.
On second-and-11 from the 39, Gardner took off toward the Michigan sideline on a designed quarterback draw. He gained eight yards on the rush before senior linebacker Anthony Hitchens stripped and recovered a fumble at the 31, giving the Hawkeyes possession with 2:12 remaining.
"It couldn't have come at a better time," said Ferentz of the fumble. "Our defense played aggressively all day. That was a byproduct of a couple of guys playing hard there."
Weisman burst through a hole on the left side on first down for 22 yards, and three plays later, Rudock sealed the victory with a 12-yard completion to senior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz on third-and-8, allowing the Hawkeyes to run out the clock with a victory formation.
"I don't want to say it's a riskless play, but if it's not there, you throw it out of bounds," said Ferentz on the game-sealing completion. "It was well-executed and a big, big play. It was a nice way to end the game."
Iowa's defense was dominant in the game. The Hawkeyes limited the Wolverines to 158 total yards -- a season-low by an Iowa opponent -- and 10 first downs. Entering the second half with a 21-7 deficit, the defense limited Michigan to three first downs, 45 yards, and most importantly, zero points.
Iowa's senior linebacker trio of James Morris, Christian Kirksey and Hitchens combined for 22 tackles, seven tackles for loss and a forced fumble and recovery. Junior Carl Davis also had a career-best eight tackles with four for loss and half a sack.
"They are good players," said Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. "To me, those three are what makes that defense go."
Offensively, Iowa finished with 407 yards of total offense, piling up 168 rushing yards on 44 attempts and throwing for 239 yards. Rudock was 19-of-30 for 239 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing three interceptions. Weisman (17 carries, 88 yards, one touchdown) and Canzeri (12 carries, 50 yards) combined for 138 yards and a score. Smith finished with five catches for a career-high 97 yards with one touchdown.
Gardner finished 13-of-28 for 98 yards with two touchdowns, while Derrick Green paced the Michigan rushing attack with 11 carries for 23 yards. Wide receiver Jeremy Gallon had six catches for 47 yards and a touchdown.
After trailing 21-7 at the half, the Iowa offense gave the Hawkeyes the start it needed on the opening series of the second half, cutting the lead in half with a three-play, 70-yard scoring drive. Canzeri opened the 12-yard burst up the middle on first down to move the ball to the Iowa 42. Two plays later, Rudock found Smith on a deep-post where he made a snow-coned catch and out-ran the Michigan defense for a 55-yard score, making the score 21-14.
Series-after-series defensively, Iowa was up to the challenge. The Hawkeyes forced three-straight three-and-outs in the third quarter, keeping the field position battle in Iowa's favor. Following a four-play Wolverine drive that result in minus one yard, Iowa took over at its own 40 and drove 60 yards for a game-tying score.
Rudock opened the drive with a 10-yard completion to Smith to midfield before connecting with Canzeri for a 17-yard completion out of the backfield to move to the Michigan 33. The key play on the series came on third-and-9 from the 32, where Iowa caught the Wolverines off guard with a 8-yard Damon Bullock rush to the 24. On fourth-and-1, fullback Adam Cox opened a gapping hole for Weisman to pick up the first down before catching a play-action pass out of the backfield for 11 yards to the 9.
On the next play, Cox opened another giant crease in the Wolverine defense and Weisman carried Raymon Taylor into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown, tying the game at 21.
Turnovers were the story of the first half, as two Iowa interceptions led to a pair of Michigan touchdowns. The Wolverines picked up a single first down in the opening quarter (via an Iowa penalty) and gained just 19 yards of total offense, but the game was tied at seven.
On Iowa's first offensive play of the game, Rudock rolled to his right off play action where Jake Ryan hit Rudock as he released the attempt. The ball popped up and was snagged by defensive end Brennen Beyer, who walked into the end zone to give Michigan a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
Iowa drove 51 yards over nine plays on the ensuing possession, but came away empty-handed. Weisman rushed for 11 yards on first down before Rudock found Fiedorowicz for 25 yards along the Michigan sidelines to move the ball the visiting 33. The Hawkeyes moved the chains a second time with a 4-yard completion to Jacob Hillyer on third-and-4. The drive stalled in the red zone, and Meyer missed a 36-yard field goal wide right.
A three-and-out courtesy of the UI defense and a 19-yard Michigan punt gave the Hawkeyes strong starting field position at the Michigan 45, and Iowa capitalized. Even with the drive starting with a 15-yard clipping penalty, Rudock found Kevonte Martin-Manley for 18 yards on first-and-23 before Canzeri and Rudock followed with runs of 10 and 19 yards to the 11.
On third-and-4 from the 5, Rudock hooked up with Fiedorowicz for a 5-yard touchdown pass when he came across the formation and made a sliding catch for the score to tie the game at seven. The drive took seven plays and covered 45 yards.
Even with a stagnant offense with four-straight three-and-outs, Michigan's defense set up a second score early in the second quarter. Iowa used a pair of Weisman rushes of 5 and 20 yards to move away from the shadow of its own goal line to the 28.
On third-and-8 from the 30, Michigan disguised a blitz, but dropped into coverage, and it got the best of Rudock, as Blake Countess intercepted the attempt directed at Martin-Manley at the Iowa 41 and returned it 13 yards to the 28.
Six straight rushes took the Wolverines to the 1 before Gardner rolled to his right and stiff-armed Tanner Miller before flicking a pass to tight end A.J. Williams for the score to give Michigan a 14-7 lead with 8:31 left in the half.
The Wolverines pushed the lead to 21-7 with a 10-play, 47-yard drive that started with 3:24 remaining. The series was the Gardner, Gallon show. The pair hooked up three times for 35 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown hookup on third-and-goal from the nine.
Senior Jordan Cotton gave the Hawkeyes some life with a 64-yard kickoff return to the Michigan 39 on Iowa's final drive before half. Rudock connected with Damon Bullock for 17 yards to the 22 on first down and a 3-yard rush to the 19. Iowa came away with zero points when Connor Kornbrath couldn't get down the hold on a field goal attempt and fumbled on the final play of the half.
Iowa (7-4, 4-3) closes out the regular season Nov. 29, facing Nebraska in the annual Heroes Game beginning at 11 a.m. (CT) in Lincoln, Neb.