Iowa's Parker Hesse's 'lucky' play leads to Big Ten honor

Chad Leistikow

Better lucky than good? That’s probably defensive end Parker Hesse being too humble in what he said after his interception return for a touchdown Friday at Nebraska changed the complexion of Iowa’s 28-20 win.

Hesse’s tipped ball off a screen pass from Tommy Armstrong, catch and 4-yard score helped earn him the Big Ten Conference’s weekly honor of freshman of the week, announced Monday.

With strong safety Miles Taylor blitzing, Armstrong threw to the left flat. Instead of pushing ahead on a pass rush, Hesse floated to the right and read the play perfectly. The former Waukon quarterback made an athletic play to score and give Iowa a 14-7 second-quarter lead.

Waukon native Parker Hesse (40) is joined in celebration by Decorah native Josey Jewell (43) after Hesse's interception-return touchdown gave Iowa a 14-7 lead at Nebraska on Black Friday.

“They threw a lot of passes like that (Saturday). We were kind of bound to make a play on one,” Hesse said after the Hawkeyes picked off Armstrong four times. “It was more or less right place at the right time, just being lucky.”

He becomes Iowa’s sixth weekly award winner of the 2015 season and clinched a Big Ten superfecta for the Hawkeyes. They already had three players earn offensive player of the week (C.J. Beathard vs. Iowa State, Jordan Canzeri vs. Illinois, Akrum Wadley vs. Northwestern), one earn the defensive award (Desmond King vs. Wisconsin) and one honored on special teams (Marshall Koehn vs. Pittsburgh).

Hesse also had a career-high six tackles against Nebraska in helping Iowa wrap up a 12-0 regular season. The redshirt freshman has started seven games in place of senior Drew Ott, who is out for the year after surgery to repair a torn ACL. Ott also had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.

Iowa (12-0) faces Michigan State (11-1) in Saturday's Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis.