A fumble recovery in the end zone stopped a potential Kent State scoring drive and gave Iowa the ball back with a nine-point lead in the third quarter. In Iowa’s eighth forced turnover on the season, the Hawks regained possession and capitalized with a Tyler Goodson touchdown. While question marks still remain, the offense steps up as Iowa beats Kent State on Saturday while looking productive on all ends. They managed to string drives together and Spencer Petras showed promise. For the third game in a row, the Hawkeye defense recorded a score and at least one turnover helping advance the Hawks to a 30-7 victory over Kent State.
Kent State’s up-tempo style of play caused Iowa’s defense to give up multiple explosive plays for the first time all season. Kent State receiver Keshunn Abram was able to find good separation and recorded three explosive plays of more than 20 yards. One of them was a 23-yard touchdown that helped cut the Iowa lead to two points. Two of his six receptions on the day were for more than 40 yards. Quarterback Dustin Crum didn’t have the performance of a lifetime against Iowa, but he managed to find open targets and a few big gains. He finished with 185 yards and a touchdown. Iowa held his running in check all afternoon as well, as he finished with -22 yards.
Hawkeye Defensive Coordinator Phil Parker found some answers for the fast-paced Golden Flashes’ offense. Despite giving up a handful of explosive plays, Iowa exhibited the definition of their “bend but don’t break” defense. The Hawkeyes gave up 265 total yards of offense and held the Flashes to just seven points. Kent State’s longest drive of the day came following a controversial overturned first-down catch by Iowa’s Tyrone Tracy Jr. The Golden Flashes took over after the ensuing Iowa punt and drove the field to the Iowa goal line. At the one-inch line, Kent State running back Bryan Bradford fumbled into the end zone where Iowa’s Riley Moss jumped on it for a touchback. Iowa would score on a Goodson touchdown run following the turnover. This change of possession resulted in a 14-point swing in favor of the Hawks and secured their third win of the season.
Hawkeye Run Defense
Overall, the Iowa defense had a solid game. Defensive linemen Joe Evans and Lukas Van Ness both recorded two sacks in Iowa’s seven-sack performance. The defense also had 10 tackles for loss and completely took away Kent State’s run game. The Golden Flashes rushed for 720 yards in their first two games against Texas A&M and VMI with 226 of them coming against the Aggies. Today, Iowa held them to 80 yards rushing, and just eight rush yards in the first half. Iowa’s run defense was elite and their young defensive line stepped up against another solid run offense.
Offense Takes Step in Right Direction
The Hawkeye offense found a little more stability this week, Goodson shined. He recorded three touchdowns on the day while rushing for 153 yards averaging seven per carry. Two of the touchdowns came on rushes of 46 and 35 yards. The offensive line was able to get a great push and help the misdirection and outside runs for Goodson.
Spencer Petras took his passing game a step up as well. He finished 25-36 with 209 yards and a touchdown and was able to find his guys. The explosive pass plays are still lacking, and Petras failed to connect on some open receivers throughout the day, but he showed flashes of his ability. Tight end Sam LaPorta was Petras’ top target this afternoon hauling in seven catches on seven targets for 65 yards and a touchdown. LaPorta was able to get open consistently and helped build Petras’ confidence throughout the game. Petras was able to find Tracy for 14 and Nico Ragaini for 48 in the fourth quarter on the Hawkeyes’ final scoring drive of the day.
Iowa scored four offensive touchdowns this week, most on the season so far. Those scoring drives averaged 73.5 yards and the Hawkeye offense showed they are capable of stringing together long drives for touchdowns. One of the touchdown drives took nearly nine minutes off the clock lasting 20 plays for 95 yards. Petras ended this drive with the short five-yard touchdown pass to LaPorta to take a 16-7 lead entering the half.
Offense Steps Up, Iowa beats Kent State
Behind a solid defensive performance, the Hawkeyes held Kent State to just seven points for its 25th straight game allowing 24 points or less. The defense recorded a safety midway through the first quarter and sacked Crum seven times on the day. There were question marks about this defensive front in the offseason, but it’s safe to say they look great through these first three games. The secondary allowed three explosive plays but kept the Golden Flashes offense contained.
The Iowa offense showed they can put together long drives and capitalize. However, the big plays are sporadic, and the consistency isn’t quite there yet. Offensive Coordinator Brian Ferentz and the offense have some more work to do, but they took a step in the right direction today. The offense accounted for 440 total yards and had their best performance to date. Things are looking up for Petras and the Iowa attack, and the number five ranked Hawkeyes advanced to 3-0 on the season.