Recap: Iowa football ends season with a 21-0 Music City Bowl win against Kentucky

Raven Moore
Hawk Central

NASHVILLE – The Iowa Hawkeyes ended their season in strong fashion after they notched their second shutout win of the season, taking down the Kentucky Wildcats 21-0.

Just like the previous games this season, Iowa's defense dominated scoring two touchdowns of their own. Both were interceptions returned for touchdowns; the first was from safety Xavier Nwankpa and the second was from cornerback Cooper DeJean.

DeJean's interception as well as his seven tackles, one tackle for loss, and pass breakup earned him the honor of being named the game's MVP.

In addition to that, they allowed just 185 total yards, limited Kentucky to 2.1 yards per carry, and held Kentucky to two third-down conversions on 11 attempts.

Offensively, the Hawkeyes had a solid showing led by Joey Labas. In his first career start, Labas completed 14 of his 24 passing attempts for 139 yards and a touchdown.

Tight ends led the way in terms of receiving yards, as Sam LaPorta and Luke Lachey combined for eight catches and 92 yards.

End of the game

The Iowa Hawkeyes end their season on a high note with their 21-0 win over the Wildcats.

2:22/Q4 – Kentucky makes a change at quarterback

After three and a half quarters under center Kentucky has elected to bench Destin Wade in favor of sophomore quarterback Duece Hogan.

On his first drive, he completed 6 of his 7 passes for 19 yards.

5:53/Q4 – Kentucky's defense makes fourth down stop

After traveling the length of the field to Kentucky's 28-yard line, Kentucky's defense gets a measure of revenge after bringing heavy pressure on Labas to force an incomplete pass on fourth down.

9:39/Q4 – Sebastian Castro's big day continues

Sebastian Castro has been a star for the Hawkeyes today after routinely making big plays.

His latest was a sack on Destin Wade on third down for a 10-yard loss. That adds to his strong five tackles and two pass-breakup game.

12:01/Q4 – Riley Moss comes up big on fourth down

In need of a 4th and 9 conversion, Kentucky was unable to get it after a huge pass breakup from Riley Moss.

Unfortunately, the Hawkeyes were unable to do much with the field position and wound up punting the ball away, despite two runs by Sam LaPorta on the drive.

Kentucky will get the ball back at their own 15-yard line.

End of the third quarter

The Wildcats' offense has a chance to get on the board for the first time at the start of the fourth quarter.

On this drive alone, they will face 3rd and 10 at Iowa's 37-yard line.

4:19/Q3 – Kentucky unable to build on a promising drive

On what could be considered their best drive of the day, the Wildcats' offense was still left sputtering after three straight plays that gained zero yards or less to end the drive.

After their punt, the Hawkeyes will get the ball at their own 16-yard line.

9:04/Q3 – Kentucky's defense continues to stand firm

The Hawkeyes were dealt a tough blow offensively after Labas was sacked on third down, leading to their sixth punt of the night.

11:43/Q3 – Kentucky and Iowa trade punts to start the second half

After gaining nine yards on the first play of the second half, the Hawkeyes were unable to do much else and ultimately punted.

Kentucky suffered the same fate, punting as well, however that was a better fate than losing the fumbled snap that occurred on third down.

End of the first half

Destin Wade throws his second pick-six of the game, this time it falls in the hands of cornerback Cooper Dejean.

Then on the next drive, Wade is sacked by Iowa's sophomore Yahya Black. As Wade was being brought down, he fumbled, but fortunately for Kentucky's sack, the ball rolled out of bounds.

Heading to halftime Iowa leads the game 21-0 and will receive the second half kickoff.

1:58/Q2 – Kentucky gets to implement their two-minute offense

Following another punt from Iowa, Kentucky will receive the ball with nearly two minutes left and all three of their timeouts.

3:44/Q2 – Jack Campbell wreaks havoc

After Kentucky picked up their first first down of the quarter, their excitement was short-lived after star linebacker Jack Campbell hawked down Destin Wade for his first sack of the night.

The Wildcats eventually punted and after a kick catch interference by them, Iowa will start their next drive at their own 42-yard line.

7:30/Q2 – Tory Taylor takes the field again

Iowa's latest three-and-out brings Tory Taylor out for his third punt of the night.

9:08/Q2 – Kentucky's offense is unable to respond

Needing a score to get out of their 14-0 hole, the Wildcats came up short and were forced to punt for the fifth time tonight.

Iowa will start off at their own 19-yard line.

11:57/Q2 – Say hello Xavier Nwankpa!

Getting his start of his young career, true freshman safety Xavier Nwankpa gets a pick-six on the first play of Kentucky's latest drive.

The 52-yard return and subsequent point-after kick from Drew Stevens gives Iowa their second touchdown in 11 seconds.

12:08/Q2 – Iowa finds the endzone for the first time tonight

Making the most of great field position from Kentucky's punt, Iowa needed just two plays to score their first point of the night.

Both were passes from Labas who first hits Sam LaPorta for a 27-yard gain and then follows it up with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Luke Lachey.

The Hawkeyes are on top 7-0.

End of the first quarter

The score remains 0-0 as both defenses have shown some slight bend, but have not broken.

Safety Sebastian Castro is having a nice game so far as he already has two tackles and two pass breakups.

When we return Joey Labas and the rest of the offense will face a 3rd and 7 at Kentucky's 45-yard line.

0:44/Q1 – Kentucky goes three-and-out

On the bright side, the Wildcats avoided giving up a safety, but they still had to punt the ball after just three plays.

2:59/Q1 – Iowa punts for the first time tonight

Despite starting with great field position, the Hawkeyes went three-and-out, leading to a punt from Tory Taylor.

However, Taylor's big leg sends the ball inside Kentucky's five-yard line before Dejean downed the ball at the two-yard line.

The Hawkeyes' defense now has a chance to get their first safety of the game.

5:14/Q1 – Iowa's defense remains stingy

After allowing one first down, the Hawkeyes' defense stepped up again to force another Kentucky punt.

Castro came up big as he broke up a deep pass from Wade, his second of the night.

Iowa's special teams had a big play as well after returner Cooper Dejean had a 34-yard return taking the ball all the way to their own 40-yard line.

8:48/Q1 – Joey Labas shows promise in first drive

The early returns for Labas are good after a strong first showing. He completed 3-4 passes for 37 yards, getting the ball to three different pass catchers. He also rushed for three yards.

His big passes and a six-yard run from Nico Ragaini got the Hawkeyes all the way down to the Wildcats 33-yard line.

Facing 4th and 2, Kentucky's defense stepped up and broke up a pass to force a turnover on downs.

12:38/Q1 – Iowa's defense forces a punt

Kentucky punts on their first offensive drive of the day, despite some early strides from Wade. On his first drive of the season, he completed his first two passes before two big defensive plays from Iowa's defense.

The first was a key tackle for loss from John Waggoner and then on the next play safety Sebastian Castro broke up a pass.

The Hawkeyes' defense will take the field first

Iowa has won the coin toss and has deferred until the second half. Kentucky's offense led by freshman quarterback Destin Wade will get the ball first today. After the touchback, they will start off at their own 25-yard line.

Iowa's Captains

Expected offensive line combinations for Iowa ahead of the game

For more insight ahead of the game, check out these stories from Hawk Central's Chad Leistikow and Kennington Smith: