Six interceptions and a fumble recovery for the Hawkeye defense led to a dominating performance for Iowa Friday night. Offensive Coordinator Brian Ferentz called an elite offensive game, and the Hawks left College Park with a 51-14 rout of the undefeated Maryland Terrapins. The intrigue of this game was how Maryland’s high-flying offense would match up against one of the country’s top defenses. The Terps looked solid on their first scoring drive of the game, but that would be it. Iowa recorded consecutive turnovers on the three following Maryland possessions and scored 31 second quarter points. That was enough to put the game out of reach by halftime. The fifth-ranked Hawkeyes prove their prominence and move to 5-0 on the season.
On their third possession of the game, Maryland strung together an impressive 69-yard touchdown drive. The play design using short screen patterns brought Iowa’s defense up a little bit and opened the middle of the field. Taulia Tagovailoa found Dontay Demus Jr. a couple times for big gains and the Terps drove inside the Iowa red zone. They broke out the run-pass option and scored in a quick three-minute drive. The Terps looked like they saw a gap in the Hawkeye defense and found a way to exploit it. This, however, would be their last of such drives.
Offensive Play Calling
Iowa came out to start the game in the spread formation looking to pass immediately. Spencer Petras hit freshman receiver Arland Bruce IV and running back Ivory Kelly-Martin for 10-plus yard passes and started to feel some rhythm right away. Iowa ended up punting on fourth down, but the aggressiveness early was something that would be a theme for Friday’s performance.
Following Maryland’s first quarter touchdown drive, Iowa returned the ensuing kickoff to the 41 yard line. Charlie Jones continues to have an impactful presence for the Iowa special teams unit. Ferentz then called one of the Hawkeyes’ better possessions of the season. The drive started with three back-to-back Tyler Goodson runs for five-plus yards. Iowa struggled to run the ball last game against Colorado State, but they began to put things together on this drive. It was important for Goodson to get his footing in this game both for his confidence and to open up the pass.
Following the runs, the offense was able to utilize the play action and down-field pass mightily. Spencer Petras worked Sam LaPorta into the passing game and found him wide open off of the play action. Goodson was next and he caught an 18-yard pass in the slot to move the Hawks down field. Bruce IV caught his second pass of the day and got Iowa down to the one yard line. Petras capitalized on a quarterback sneak and Iowa took a 10-7 lead. It was clear that the Hawkeyes found their rhythm on offense. In the first quarter alone, Petras threw for 75 yards on six completions and Iowa averaged 5.8 yards per play.
Second Quarter Separation
The second quarter would be all Iowa. The Hawkeyes had possession of the ball for 12:10 and put 31 points on the board. The offensive success was generated by the excellent work of the Hawkeye defense. Iowa’s average starting field position in the second quarter was the Maryland 36 yard line. With this field position advantage, they were able to put the game out of reach. Petras scored a second quarterback sneak and also found Bruce IV for his first collegiate touchdown on a long-developing pattern to the end zone. That made for the second weekend in a row where an Iowa freshman receiver scored their first touchdown. Keagan Johnson had one last week against Colorado State. Even the fullback Monte Pottebaum got a touchdown carry late in the second quarter. Iowa took a commanding 34-7 lead into the locker room and everything was clicking.
Tagovailoa entered Friday night’s game with 10 touchdowns and just one interception on the season. At the end of the first half against Iowa, Tagovailoa had four interceptions and trailed by 27 points. He would finish with five interceptions and the Terps ended the day with six total. Riley Moss recorded the first interception of the day for the Hawkeye defense. The turnover was converted into the first three points of the game for Iowa and they weren’t done.
After the Hawkeyes took a 10-7 lead, the ensuing kickoff return was fumbled and Iowa took over at the Maryland 10 yard line. The Terps’ leading receiver Demus Jr. went down on the play in what looked to be a scary leg injury. Unfortunately, he was carted off the field. It’s never good to watch a player go down like that. It was a very tough break for the senior and the Maryland football team.
Iowa scored following the fumble and proceeded to intercept Tagovailoa on their following two possessions. The first of which was hauled in by Jack Koerner after it was tipped in the middle of the field by Jack Campbell. Maryland had a guy breaking down the middle of the field, but Campbell read the play and got his hand up for the deflection. Koerner came down with it and gave Iowa great field position to ultimately score a touchdown. On the first play of the very next Maryland possession, Dane Belton intercepted Tagovailoa. Iowa took over in plus-territory and again capitalized with a touchdown.
The ball hawk defense would go on to intercept the Terrapins three more times before the end of the game. Maryland was completely out of answers for Phil Parker’s squad and the home team struggled all night. Tagovailoa was taken out of the game early in the fourth quarter and Iowa began to bring in their backups as well. Despite Maryland’s first quarter lead, the 41 unanswered points by Iowa put the game away quickly.
Hawkeyes Prove Their Prominence
The blackout crowd at Maryland Stadium was chomping at the bit to host the number five team in the country on Friday night. Maryland put together a graceful eight-play, 69 yard touchdown drive early, but Iowa made their adjustments. In a seven turnover performance, the Hawkeyes dropped 51-points on the eighth ranked scoring defense in the country. Maryland had only given up an average of 14 points per game entering the contest. The Terrapins managed to only score 14 on Friday. The Hawkeyes prove their prominence and show the nation why they are a top five team. The offensive playbook opened up and Petras had an even better game than last week. He finished with 260 yards, three passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns. Next week, Iowa hosts the Penn State Nittany Lions in what could potentially be a top five matchup with major implications.