Sept. 29, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- - A "Citizen Hero" took to the playing field during pre-game ceremonies Saturday at historic Kinnick Stadium. A bunch of "Hawkeye Heroes" followed him in the first half of the University of Iowa's 31-13 victory over previously unbeaten Minnesota in the team's annual battle for Floyd of Rosedale, the prized bronzed pig awarded annually to the winner of one of Big Ten Conference legendary rivalries.
Gary Launderville, Iowa's "Citizen Hero" at last year's Hy-Vee Heroes Game, was introduced to the sun-drenched sellout crowd at Kinnick along with his wife and his children in celebration of the start of the nomination process for this year's "Citizen Hero," who will be saluted with the Hawkeyes entertain the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 2012 Heroes Game the day after Thanksgiving. To nominate your "hero," click HERE.
The 2012 Hawkeyes followed Launderville's lead, putting together a dominating 30 minutes of football en route to a 24-0 halftime lead. Iowa's offense punished the Gopher defense on the ground and sliced the visitors through the air to the tune of 328 yards, a total that included 155 yards gained on 16 carries by Iowa running back Mark Weisman, and another 165 yards via the arm of Hawkeye quarterback James Vandenberg, who found six different receivers including a 47-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Cotton off a flea-flicker play.
Vandenberg completed 13 of his 19 first-half attempts, prompting Ed Podolak of the Hawkeye Radio Network to smile wide. "James looks like a surgeon out there," offered the former Hawkeye great.
As solid as Iowa's offense looked in the first 30 minutes, it was Iowa's defense that drew the highest praise from UI coach Kirk Ferentz during his halftime visit with the Hawkeye Radio Network and why not? The Hawkeye defense allowed the Gophers just three first downs and only 75 yards on 22 plays before intermission.
"We're playing well in all three phases," said Ferentz of the Hawkeyes' effort in the first 30 minutes before adding. "Big plays on defense with some nice three-and-out's. "
"We're playing well in all three phases. Big plays on defense with some nice three-and-out's. "
Kirk Ferentz at halftime of Iowa's 31-13 victory over Minnesota Saturday at historic Kinnick Stadium
Minnesota didn't move the pigskin across midfield and into Iowa territory until its first drive of the second half...and them promptly handed the ball back to the home team when Anthony Hitchens fell on loose ball caused by a strip by UI linebacker James Morris.
It was the second of four takeaways by the Hawkeyes on this Homecoming Saturday. The last of the four - a 67-yard interception return by UI linebacker Christian Kirksey midway through the fourth quarter - secured Iowa's third victory of 2012 and 1-0 start in Big Ten play. Iowa doesn't play again until Oct. 13 when they travel to East Lansing, Mich., for a date with the Michigan State Spartans.
Weisman ended the contest with 177 yards on 22 carries. Vandenberg completed his work day with 192 yards on 18 completions. Iowa's signal-caller also passed for one touchdown and ran for another. Iowa's receiving corps was paced by senior Keenan Davis, who had 6 catches for 50 yards.
"Keenan Davis has come of age just in time to help the Hawkeyes get some wins in the Big Ten," Podolak offered after the native Iowan made an acrobatic grab of a Vandenberg laser.