Riley Moss, Lukas Van Ness top highlights from Iowa football's open practice

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Hawkeyes' offense scored one passing touchdown during the scrimmage portion of Saturday's open spring practice.

Not from Spencer Petras.

Not from Alex Padilla.

Not even from third-stringer Deuce Hogan, the redshirt freshman out of Texas.

It came from fourth-string quarterback Connor Kapisak, a junior walk-on from Windsor, Connecticut. During his only full drive late in the scrimmage, Kapisak lofted a just-about-perfect 32-yard pass over the middle to fellow walk-on Jackson Ritter, leading him into the end zone.

Other than that, Iowa's offense didn't rip off too many more chunk plays, which isn't uncommon as defense usually develops quicker in spring practices. That was evident Saturday, as the Hawkeyes' defensive line consistently won battles and the secondary, namely Riley Moss, made several big plays. 

In chronological order, here are the top offensive and defensive highlights from the scrimmage portion of Iowa's final spring practice.

Iowa defensive back Riley Moss (33) defends Iowa wide receiver Charlie Jones (16) during the final Hawkeyes spring football practice of the season, Saturday, May 1, 2021, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

Alex Padilla and Arland Bruce IV connected on a pair of passes during the first drive, which featured the second-team offense. The second pass was an 18-yard gain near the sideline, as Bruce beat A.J. Lawson and ripped off 5 or 6 yards after the catch.

Noah Shannon made one of the first notable defensive stops during the first team's first drive. The 290-pound junior defensive tackle pushed his way through the line of scrimmage to stop Tyler Goodson for a gain of zero at most.

Padilla's best throw perhaps came on his second drive with the second team. He found Desmond Hutson for 15 yards on a simple cross route. It was crisp and low to the ground, where only Hutson could catch it.

Caleb Shudak drilled field goals of 47 and 45 yards during the first few possessions.

Fullback action! Monte Pottebaum ripped off an 11-yard gain during some red-zone work. He dragged Hawkeye defenders for about the final 7 of those 11 yards, getting down to the 4-yard line.

On the next play, Kaevon Merriweather and Zach Van Valkenburg combined to stop Goodson at the 1-yard line to preserve the defensive "shutout." (Goodson poked it through for the offense's first touchdown on the next play, though.)

Backup running back Gavin Williams began an impressive Saturday effort on the next possession when his quick cut to left in the backfield led to an 8-yard gain. He took the next carry 4 yards to secure a first down in back-to-back rushes.

On the same drive, Padilla stepped forward in a collapsing pocket and fired a pass to Ritter for a gain of 15.

Hogan soon made his first notable play, firing an accurate, 15-yard dart to Hutson on a slant.

Lukas Van Ness "sacked" Hogan on the next play. (Iowa's defenders didn't tackle the quarterbacks, but the referees blew the whistle when it was clear a sack would have occurred.) That was Van Ness' second sack of the day.

Iowa defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness (91) warms up during a NCAA Big Ten Conference football spring practice, Saturday, April 17, 2021, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

Moss then began a string of big-time plays. First, he timed his defense on a post route to near perfection to break it up without committing pass interference. On the next drive, he laid out to break up a third-down pass on a slant. And on the next drive, Moss intercepted Petras when he tried to find his target on a wheel route.

Aaron Blom, the redshirt freshman kicker from Oskaloosa who will likely back up Shudak, nailed a 46-yard field goal with yardage to spare.

Van Ness showed up big-time again on Hogan's next drive. He pushed through the middle of the line on a stunt and forced Hogan out of the pocket for a throwaway.

On the same drive, Williams logged three consecutive carries of 6 yards, 4 yards and 5 yards. He proved himself Saturday to be a sturdy No. 2 running back who showcased lighter feet than he had in high school. Leshon Williams also consistently ripped off 4- or 5-yard gains.

Shudak knocked through a 50-yard field goal.

More Van Ness. This time, the 6-5, 270-pounder snagged running back Nolan Donald in the backfield for a loss of a yard as Donald tried to get outside. 

During Iowa's first two-minute drill, Petras found Sam LaPorta for a 9-yard gain. It was a notable catch from LaPorta, who had two defenders on him and wasn't working with much space to operate.

Freshman wide receiver Keagan Johnson then caught what we believe was his first reception during the scrimmages of either open spring practice. It was a 10-yard gain over the middle. The play was called dead after Johnson bounced off a defender, but it looked like more of a broken tackle with lots of green in front of Johnson.

Petras then made a really smart play, checking down to Goodson for a 10-yard gain to get into field-goal range when he had nobody open downfield.

Jermari Harris almost nullified Goodson's 10-yard gain on the next play as he jumped a post route and nearly intercepted Petras on the right sideline.

Iowa's defense iced Shudak with a timeout at the end of the first two-minute drill ...  but he still made his 46-yard field goal attempt.

We had a Josiah Miamen sighting on the second two-minute drill, as Padilla found the sophomore tight end on a shallow cross route. Miamen picked up about 10 yards after the catch for a 12-yard gain.

Redshirt freshman Deontae Craig easily broke through the line of scrimmage on third down to force an incompletion and fourth down.

Bruce was in the right place at the right time on that fourth-down play. Padilla's short pass to the sideline was deflected high up in the air ... and into Bruce's waiting arms. He then angled away from the defenders and ran 35 yards down to the 5.

Iowa wide receiver Arland Bruce IV (10) runs for extra yards after a catch as Iowa defensive back AJ Lawson (11) and Iowa defensive back Kaevon Merriweather (26) defend during the final Hawkeyes spring football practice of the season, Saturday, May 1, 2021, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Drake basketball and pretty much anything else under the sports sun for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network.  Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.