Hawkeyes outslug Purdue 24-10 in Beathard's first start

Pat Harty
Iowa City Press-Citizen

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Iowa fans got their wish when sophomore quarterback C.J. Beathard started against Purdue on Saturday.

They also got the desired result, but not without a struggle.

The Hawkeyes overcame a sluggish first half on offense to defeat Purdue 24-10 before an announced crowd of 36,603 at Ross-Ade Stadium.

"We're not necessarily playing our best football in the first half, but the guys are playing hard," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "Certainly they were much better in the second half."

Purdue took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Frankie Williams scored on a 39-yard interception return. The Boilermakers made it 10-0 with a field goal in the second quarter.

Iowa, which entered the game as a 9-point favorite, took its first lead of the game when Beathard threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior Kevonte Martin-Manley with 45 seconds left in the third quarter. Marshall Koehn converted the extra-point kick to give Iowa a 17-10 lead after three quarters.

C.J. Beathard (16) avoids being sacked by Purdue defensive end Jalani Phillips during the first half of Iowa's road game Saturday.

Martin-Manley's touchdown was initially ruled out of bounds, but the call was reversed by instant replay.

The Hawkeyes expanded their lead to 24-10 when senior Mark Weisman scored on a 5-yard run with 5:10 left in the fourth quarter. Weisman's touchdown capped a 12-play, 79-yard drive that chewed 5:26 off the game clock.

Iowa improved to 4-1 overall with Saturday's victory. It was Iowa's fourth win in its last five games against the Boilermakers, who fell to 2-3 under second year coach Darrell Hazell.

Beathard completed 17-of-37 passes for 245 yards and one touchdown and one interception -- which was returned for a Purdue touchdown in the first quarter -- in his first career start for the Hawkeyes.

Jake Rudock, who was injured in last week's win against Pitt, did not play.

"Really proud of C.J.," Ferentz said. "We have a lot of faith in both C.J. and Jake. Giving up (a pick-six) wasn't easy, but he put that behind him and kept going and did a good job the rest of the game."

The Iowa defense picked up where it left off in the second half against Pittsburgh by holding Purdue to just 156 yards, including 72 passing yards. That's the sixth lowest offensive output for an Iowa opponent under head coach Kirk Ferentz.

The Hawkeyes now enter the first of two by weeks this season and it couldn't have come at a better time with the Hawkeyes nursing numerous injuries.

In addition to Rudock missing Saturday's game because of an injury, Iowa also was without several key players on offense, including receiver Matt VandeBerg and running back Damon Bullock. Junior fullback Macon Plewa also missed his third game in a row because of an undisclosed injury.

Saturday's game played out similarly to the previous week when Iowa unleashed its power rushing attack and stiffened on defense in the second half to defeat Pittsburgh 24-20 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Hawkeyes trailed that game 17-7 at halftime.

Beathard led the comeback against Pittsburgh after replacing Rudock at the start of the third quarter. Rudock was injured late in the second quarter against Pittsburgh. He dressed for Saturday's game, but didn't play, ending a streak of 17 consecutive starts dating back to the start of last season.

A certain segment of the Iowa fan base was clamoring for Beathard to start after the Iowa offense struggled in the first three games. However, Ferentz stuck with Rudock until the injury prevented Rudock from playing Saturday.

Iowa failed to record a first down in the first quarter and didn't cross into Purdue territory until early in the second quarter. Beathard finally recorded Iowa's first first-down when he scrambled for 15 yards to the Purdue 25-yard line with 10:02 left in the second quarter.

A 9-yard run by Jordan Canzeri and a 14-yard pass from Beathard to Martin-Manley gave Iowa a first-down at the Purdue 2.

Weisman then bulled into the end zone from 2 yards and Koehn converted the extra-point kick, trimming Purdue's lead to 10-7 with 8:15 left before halftime.

Koehn also made a 28-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the second quarter to tie the score at 10-10 at halftime.

Iowa drove from its own 12-yard to the Purdue 10, but the drive stalled after back-to-back incompletions on second and third down. Beathard completed 5-of-8 passes for 69 yards on Iowa's final drive of the first half.