Cole Croston has game-saving play in first Hawkeye start

Chad Leistikow

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard looks for an open receiver during the Hawkeyes' game against Wisconsin at Camp Randall in Madison on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.

MADISON, Wis. -- Lost in the combined six turnovers during Iowa's 10-6 win over No. 19 Wisconsin on Saturday was a turnover that wasn't — and the Hawkeyes can thank their new left tackle for rescuing them.

Cole Croston, who got his first career start when left tackle Boone Myers was ruled out with a stinger injury, alertly pounced on a fumble by Iowa running back Jordan Canzeri with 3 minutes, 3 seconds to go.

Croston joked that a brief lapse in judgment saved him — instead of keeping his eyes up, as football players are trained, he was looking at the Camp Randall Stadium FieldTurf.

"All of a sudden the ball's down by my feet. I don't know why I'm looking at the ground," Croston said. "But my first instinct was just to fall on it."

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That was a big recovery in a scrum along the left sideline at Iowa's 19-yard line, because it forced Wisconsin to use its final two timeouts on consecutive plays and allowed the Hawkeyes to punt it away — putting the Badgers 53 yards away from the end zone instead of 19 on their final, failed drive.

It was a satisfying finishing moment for Croston, who had his hands full with Wisconsin's attacking defense. He saw a lot of Joe Schobert, the outside linebacker who had a season's worth of stats in one game — three sacks, five quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

"I think I did all right. 58 (Schobert), he did a great job," Croston said. "The pass rushers and inside guys were stout. It was a good first test. Wisconsin's got a good defense."

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Croston, 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds, emerged as Iowa's top backup tackle in spring and fall camps. Head coach Kirk Ferentz feels good about the junior former walk-on from Sergeant Bluff — so much so that he didn't offer any advice.

"I didn't say a word to him. I don't think anybody did. He's done a great job," Ferentz said. "He's been practicing well. We've got a lot of faith in Cole."

As for Myers, his status is clear as mud going forward. Stingers can be pesky.

"More day-to-day, week-to-week. Hopefully day-to-day," Ferentz said. "We'll see."