Status Report: Second-half rally gets Iowa a (Cy-Hawk) trophy

Rick Brown
Iowa’s (4) Tevaun Smith (4) pulls in a touchdown pass in front of Iowa State’s (10) Brian Peavy during the first half of their football game Saturday Sept. 12 2015, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.

After Iowa went winless in four trophy games last season, the case that once housed them in the football complex was smashed in the off-season. Win a trophy game and we'll get a new case, the players were told.

"That's exactly what we did," running back Jordan Canzeri said.

Iowa rallied from a 17-10 halftime decificit with 21 unanswered points to improve to 2-0.

"It was an important next chapter for our football team," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.

Pass offense: Shaky start, good finish

Quarterback C.J. Beathard got off to a rocky start, completing just two of his first six passes. He did hook up with Tevaun Smith on a 14-yard scoring pass in the second quarter. But that was one of just five first-half completions in 12 attempts for 56 yards. He was also sacked twice.

Beathard found his rhythm the second half, completing 10 of 13 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

"I think the thing that impressed me the most about C.J. was the way he kept his poise," Ferentz said.

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Rush offense: Another 100-yard back

Nothing was clicking for the Hawkeyes for most of the first half, but it was Beathard's legs that provided a spark. Iowa had just 57 yards of total offense on its first four possessions of the game. But a 44-yard Beathard run was the highlight of a 93-yard drive that tied the game at 10-10 in the second quarter. The drive actually covered 99 yards because Beathard was sacked at his own 1 on the first play of the drive.

Iowa's run game was effective after the slow start, even after LeShun Daniels injured an ankle last in the second quarter and didn't return.

Canzeri was the workhorse, and his hard running had Iowa driving for a go-ahead touchdown with inside of 10 minutes to play. But he fumbled on a second-and-3 play from the Cyclone 10 – he would have had a first down – and Iowa State recovered.

Canzeri bounced back, though. After Desmond King's interception with Iowa in front, 24-17, Iowa took over at the Cyclones 25. Two carries by Canzeri covered the distance to the end zone to seal the deal. For the game, Canzeri had 24 carries for 124 yards. Daniels had 123 yards in the season opener against Illnois State. Iowa had a 100-yard rusher in two games all last season.

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Pass defense: Another second-half rally

It was a long first half for the secondary, because Iowa State quarterback Sam Richardson had plenty of time to throw. The defense had chances to make big plays, but penalties negated them. Linebcaker Ben Niemann was tagged for pass interference, wiping out a Greg Mabin interception. Later in that drive, the Hawkeyes couldn't corral a Cyclone fumble on the play where Iowa defensive Drew Ott was injured and left the game for good. Iowa State scored its first touchdown on that possession.

Richardson was 12 of 15 for 186 yards in the first half. But Iowa put much better pressure on him the second half, and the secondary also played better. Richardson was just seven of 20 for 61 yards in the second half.

"We got more physical with their receivers, not letting them run up field free and easy and putting pressure on their quarterback to either sack him or make him throw back balls," King said.

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Rush defense: Catching a second wind

Parker Hesse, a redshirt freshman, got the call to replace Ott. After a slow start, Hesse spent much of the second half in the Iowa State backfield.

"It was just a confidence thing, feeling the flow of the game," Hesse said. "I felt more comfortable the second half."

Defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson stood out the second half. He finished the game with five tackles and a sack.

"This is two straight weeks for him," Ferentz said. "It seems like he's doing a really good job. I'm anxious to see the film."

Special teams: Punt coverage shines

Iowa State had 193 punt return yards in the opener against Northern Iowa, including 100 from Allen Lazard and an 81-yard touchdown return by Trever Ryen. On Saturday, the Cyclones had no punt return yards. Iowa punter Dillon Kidd was strong, averaging 47.4 yards on five punts and getting good hang time that allowed the coverage team to get down the field.

King had an oops moment when he tried to return a kickoff and bobbled the ball out-of-bounds at the Iowa 2 right after Iowa State had taken a 17-10 lead late in the second quarter. King also fielded a punt inside the Hawkeye 10 in the second half and got buried. But with the game tied, 17-17, his 47-yard punt return gave Iowa the ball at the 50. Iowa scored the go-ahead touchdown on that possession.

"I had to make a play for our offense," King said. "The coverage broke down a little. Once I found a seam I hit it and kept my eyes forward."

Iowa also tried another fake field goal, this one from the Cyclone 22 on the last play of the half. Marshall Koehn lined up to try a 40-yard field goal with a second remaining, but took the snap and made it to the Iowa State 5 before getting tackled. The Hawkeyes are now 0-2 on fake field goals this season.

"We thought we could score a touchdown," Ferentz said.