That was weird: North Texas 14, Iowa 10 at halftime
Well that was ... weird.
The Iowa Hawkeyes enter halftime trailing North Texas, 14-10, after a first half that featured its share of bogus plays and questionable calls. Nate Stanley went 11-for-19 for 143 yards and a touchdown, and James Butler added 52 yards on 11 carries. Akrum Wadley had 24 yards on eight carries, but he went to the locker room before halftime with an apparent ankle injury.
But enough stats. Let's go through a few of the big happenings — normal and abnormal, alike. If we were to list all of them here, we'd have a novel.
"I'm going to the bar at halftime," Iowa radio announcer Gary Dolphin said. "I've never seen a half like this."
First up: Nick Easley's goal-line fumble. Nate Stanley found his favorite target for what looked like a 6-yard touchdown on a screen pass on Iowa's first drive. But after review, referees determined that Easley fumbled the ball before reaching the end zone. The ball trickled out of bounds for a touchback. North Texas took over at its 20-yard line, and Iowa came away from a 12-play, 77-yard drive with nothing.
North Texas' easy scoring drive. Easley's fumble set up a hot-knife-through-butter touchdown drive for the Mean Green. It marched 80 yards on six plays, ending with a 41-yard touchdown run from Jeffery Wilson.
Akrum Wadley's touchdown-then-not-a-touchdown. Wadley beat a corner on a wheel route and outran him for 74-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. Except, it wasn't a touchdown. Wadley high-stepped his way into the end zone, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct flag. In college, that call nullifies the score and enforces the penalty from the spot of the infraction. It's a new rule in 2017. The 74-yard touchdown turned into a 68-yard pass with a 15-yard penalty. Seven plays later, Stanley found T.J. Hockenson for an 8-yard score.
The fumble to rule all fumbles. After several more "interesting" calls and reviews — including a pass interference called against North Texas on an Iowa pass that was tipped — the fumble to rule all fumbles took place. On a second-and-2 late in the second, Stanley got bull-rushed and fumbled the ball at North Texas' 47. A Mean Green defender recovered the ball and returned it to Iowa's 16, before James Butler caught him from behind. Butler forced a fumble and recovered it, saving a probable North Texas score on a short field.
And another quick Mean Green score. Just for kicks, North Texas added another wrinkle to this game with a 35-second, six-play, 66-yard touchdown drive to enter the locker room with a 13-10 lead. Three big flags on Iowa assisted the drive. (By the way: There was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on North Texas, but it occurred after the touchdown, so the score still counted.)
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.