What we learned: Iowa football tops Iowa State 44-41 in OT thriller

Chris Cuellar
Hawk Central

It’s Iowa’s year, again.


In a Cy-Hawk thriller that went to overtime in Ames for the first time since 2011, the Hawkeyes escaped Jack Trice Stadium with a 44-41 win over Iowa State after a back-and-forth four quarters.

Iowa trailed by two scores early in the fourth quarter and even went down 38-31 with 4:36 remaining on a 74-yard Cyclone score from Jacob Park to Hakeem Butler, but responded through quarterback Nate Stanley, running back Akrum Wadley and a rollout toss to true freshman Ihmir Smith-Marsette in the first extra period.

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The victory marks Iowa’s third straight in the series and fourth in the last five years. It puts head coach Kirk Ferentz above .500 against his in-state rival for the first time in his career.

Iowa State has dropped the last three meetings of this series on its home field, although a capacity crowd which stayed entertained and engaged throughout certainly didn’t hurt the effort.  

Here are a few things we learned from Saturday’s game as the final whistle blew.

Cy-Hawk stays crazy

Whatever your opinion is about Iowa and Iowa State meeting in football every year, this series produces some exciting games and nail-biting finishes to go with the passion of an in-state rivalry. Saturday’s high-scoring contest was no exception.

Iowa State scored first with Allen Lazard. Maybe Iowa State has a shot!

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell high fives his players after holding Iowa on a fourth down during the first half of their football game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Ames.

The Hawkeyes reeled off three long drives of 10-plus plays to score touchdowns and take a 21-10 lead in the third quarter. Looks like they’ll grind out a third straight win!

Then the Cyclones scored touchdowns on three straight possessions and led by two scores in the fourth quarter. Everybody still likes “Sweet Caroline,” right?

But even Park’s late interception to Iowa down lineman Parker Hesse couldn’t ruin the mood inside Jack Trice Stadium, as the Hawkeyes were held to a field goal and the Cyclones responded with a 74-yard bomb to Butler.

Then Iowa running back Akrum Wadley tied the game with 1:09 left on a 46-yard catch and run from Stanley. This is bananas.

Overtime is often viewed as a flip of the coin, but this game deserved a few more minutes to play out and show off just how crazy this series can be.

And Smith-Marsette made a name for himself in the series in his first career start.

Iowa’s run game will work for a big play

Iowa’s offense stuck to its gameplan, despite injuries and moving pieces on the offensive line. Wadley and James Butler were fed a healthy diet of stretch runs and had to pound Iowa State’s impressively solid rush defense to break free. But, of course, they did.

Iowa senior running back Akrum Wadley (25)  jumps the pile for a touchdown during the first half of their football game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Ames.

Wadley topped 100 yards, despite starting with just five yards on his first five carries. A long run of 35 yards and numerous carries with jukes and shakes complemented Butler’s early 26-yard reception and 33 rushing yards.

As a team, the Hawkeyes entered the final drive averaging less than four yards per carry, but they kept working at it. And Wadley broke open the final touchdown of regulation.

Iowa teammates huddle up following a touchdown during their game against Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.

David Montgomery is a tough runner

The sophomore running back from Cincinnati, Ohio, often looked like the best player on the field for the Cyclones. Montgomery was essentially on his own as a feature back and blew up with an impressive early 36-yard run and a ridiculously physical 7-yard touchdown run where he was grabbed by the facemask before plowing forward. Montgomery had over 100 yards on the ground and more than 50 through the air.

Jacob Park picked apart Iowa’s defense

Iowa State's Allen Lazard celebrates his 5-yard touchdown catch during the Cyclones' game against Iowa at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.

Iowa State’s quarterback was asked to throw early and often in Saturday’s game, and responded with a memorable performance that included deep touchdowns and clutch conversions. The Georgia transfer was 24-of-41 in regulation, for 338 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception. The touch he showed on lobs allowed the Cyclones to score two late touchdowns with Butler and keep Iowa’s star linebacker Josey Jewell away from the ball. One week after all three Hawkeye linebackers topped double-digit stops, two of the top three tacklers were defensive backs.

And Iowa’s Stanley played his part for the opposite offense. The sophomore threw as many times as Iowa rushed, and added his own 300-yard, four-score game in regulation. There's a reason the score was 38-38 heading into overtime.