From 2013: Des Moines Register photographer Charlie Litchfield shared an inside look at what it's like to cover Iowa's biggest sporting event, the Cy-Hawk football game. Charlie Litchfield/The Register
Editor’s note: This story by Register sports writer Maury White originally ran on Sept. 30, 1979, the day after Iowa beat Iowa State 30-14. It was the Cy-Hawk rivalry’s third game after a more than 40-year hiatus.
IOWA CITY, IA. – Well, what do you know, Iowa’s football team can hold a lead. Those days of getting fans unduly excited only to fade in the fourth quarter have apparently ended. At least, there was none of that Saturday.
The Hawkeyes, dominating the line of scrimmage both ways, battered Iowa State for 378 yards on the ground and held the Cyclones to a mere 162 by all routes for a decisive 30-14 victory before a crowd of 60,100, tying the second largest gathering ever in Kinnick Stadium.
Another 51 yards passing increased the Hawkeye total offense to a sizzling 429.
Iowa State came into the game with high hopes and left a rock ‘em, sock ‘em contest with a long hospital list that included Shamus McDonough, John Quinn, Victor Mack, Joel Jenson and Chris Boskey, plus an offense that seemed a long ways from enjoying blooming health.
This was SIC ‘EM III, the third revival of the modern series between the state’s two largest schools. Both sets of the temporary wooden goal posts put up for this game were down before the end of Hayden Fry’s first victory at Iowa and Donnie Duncan’s second loss in three games as a Cyclone.
The north one went first with 1 minute 59 seconds to go and that seemed appropriate for that was the site of the first of three touchdowns by Dennis Mosley, a senior running back who ran 39 times for 229 yards and three touchdowns in leading the upset of a Big Eight team that had been favored by a field goal.
It was a glorious day for the young man from Youngstown, Ohio. The number of carries were a school record, surpassing 34 by Frank Holmes in 1972. The total rushing yardage was second only to Ed Podolak’s 286 against Northwestern in 1968.
And, to help put it in personal perspective, Mosley’s production was only 59 yards less than he managed in 63 carries all last year, when he didn’t score at all. This year, Dennis opened with a four-touchdown game against Indiana.
“The bruises still hurt, but you don’t think bout them so much when you win,” said Mosley, who somersaulted across the goal for one yard for his first touchdown, caught a nine-yard pass from Pete Gales for No. 2, then zipped 19 and 18 yards on successive plays for No. 3 to produce what eventually proved to be the winning points.
However, his most exciting run was yet to come. Dashing Dennis took off around end early in the final quarter, juked one Cyclone at the line and went cruising 68 yards for a touchdown that wasn’t.
“Yeah, I saw the clip,” said Mosley. “I slowed down and saw Jeff (Brown) get the guy. It was a great day. We went on the field knowing we were going to win because we’d been so close in the other games.”
FROM THE VAULT:
The surprise of it all, and you must remember that the Cyclones won a year ago, 31-0, was Iowa’s ability to dominate the game physically. Both Cyclone touchdowns came courtesy of Iowa’s passing game. Jeff Stallworth intercepted one pass and the Cyclones plugged in to make it 7-7. Much later, John Less stole a pass and turned it into a 26-yard touchdown to close the gap to 21-14.
“I think there were many factors resulting in our inability to score more and do a better job offensively,” said Duncan. “Iowa’s defense played well and that was certainly a factor. John Quinn got most of the preparation time in practice. When he was injured and unable to play, that was another factor.
“I was surprised that Iowa was able to dominate us on the ground the way they did. We elected to kick off at the start because I wanted to take advantage of the wind and I thought our defense could hold them.”
The clues that Duncan’s thinking on this particular issue would not hold up came early. On first possession, with Gales starting at quarterback, Iowa went 80 yards in 12 plays. Five were sweeps and and (sic) only one a pass. The drive would up with Mosley diving the yard for his first touchdown.
Reggie (The Cannon) Roby, the freshman from East Waterloo with a leg that someday may send a football into orbit, converted the point. By day’s end, after he wound up the scoring with a 44-yard field goal and once boomed a punt that went 70 yards through the air, his rooting section was exceeded only by Mosley’s.
It’s hard to tell where turning points of games actually occur, but the decisive one in SIC ‘EM III may have shown up shortly. On Iowa State’s opening scrimmage play after Iowa’s first score, Quinn and Greg Smith combined for a 49-yard pass to hustle the ball to Iowa’s 29-yard line.
Hawkeye fans who had glowed about early leads over Indiana, Oklahoma and Nebraska – only to later be saddened – must have been thinking Here we go again. That wasn’t the way it turned out.
Three times the Cyclones’ ran the ball, using fullback Jack Seabrooke the last two, and it was fourth-and-one. Linebacker Leven Weiss had blasted in to make the big third-down stop.
On fourth-and-one, Duncan elected to go for the first down. Quinn ran a keeper, Pat Dean came in and made the hit, helped by Bryan Skradis, and there was no first down. Iowa took possession and a great psychological blow has been struck.
Phil Suess, the lefty who started the first two games and has been out since with injury, came off the bench and threw what proved to be his only pass of the game. Stallworth stole it in midfield.
“That was a coaching mistake,” says Fry. “They weren’t in the defense we anticipated and I didn’t tell him to audible out of that situation. It was a bad call on my part.”
Mack was available then and he and Seabrooke were kept busy. Quinn almost threw a touchdown pass to Derek Andrews but it was slightly short and Andrews couldn’t quite haul it in near the goal. The touchdown drive twice needed runs on fourth down but Mack went over from the two and it became a 7-7 game.
Roby’s gargantuan spiral that went 70 via air and 58 yards from scrimmage, lit in the end zone and the Cyclones had to start from the 20. Rich Miller punted back and, following an exchange of fumbles, the Hawks were off again.
Bobby Stoops recovered the Cyclone fumble only 22 yards from the promised land. Mosley and Gales worked the ball to the nine, then Gales rolled out, found Mosley in the end zone and delivered six points.
With Quinn sidelined with a knee problem, Iowa State’s passing had a rocky afternoon with only four completions in 15 tries. There was also one interception.
The Hawkeyes opened the third quarter much as the first, marching to a touchdown on first possession. The line furnished good holes, Dean McKillip helped out in midfield and Mosley took over for the last 41 yards, needing just three carries to get across and let The Cannon make it 21-7.
Once again, Iowa State prosperity came after a Hawkeye put the ball into the air. Gales, hit as he let the ball go, threw a pass that Less took in full stride and the linebacker cruised 26 yards to score. Alex Giffords kicked the point to make it 21-14. Suddenly, the game seemed on again.
Shortly thereafter, when Iowa got down to the 33 and failed to make it on a fourth-and-one situation, courtesy of Lou Vieceli’s hard tackle, there was even a hint that the momentum might be changing. It didn’t turn out that way.
Injuries had been decimating the Cyclones throughout the afternoon and Chris Boskey, one of their best linemen, was obviously limping and able to go only half-speed. Soon after the final quarter started, Mosley broke the run that led to the day’s final touchdown.
McKillip scored it from the 27, thereby proving that Mosley didn’t have the outright Hawkeye franchise for scoring touchdown against the Cyclones. And soon after that, Tom Buck’s fumble was recovered by Tracy Crocker and Roby closed out the scoring with his 44-yard field goal.
When it was finally over, and Fry came down to the weight room to meet with the media, one of the first questions he fielded was about what he had told the troops in the dressing room.
“I said, ‘We’ve got a lot to be thankful for so let’s have a prayer and thank the Man upstairs,’” said Fry. “Then we tore loose.”
Since Iowa had played so well and not won in the first three, Fry was obviously happy to have a victory to talk about. He praised the hitting on both sides, particularly his own.
“We came to play today, four quarters, the whole 60 minutes," he said. “It was great to beat a team that beat us 31-0 last year. Iowa State did a heckuva job. We’ve got a lot to smile about today.”
Fry substituted more than he’s been able to and that pleased him a great deal. The Hawkeyes also wound up with a casualty list. Nose guard Dean and running back Phil Blatcher were injured and several others were due for later medical checks.
Iowa gets back to Big Ten business next week at Illinois. Fry said Gales would probably start at quarterback, but then again he might not. He also expressed surprise that Illinois had been able to play Navy so tough before losing.
The Cyclones will be home next week against University of Pacific.