Hawkeyes ride big-play offense past Indiana, improve to 5-1

Pat Harty
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Desmond King gets a warm reception after his pick-six touchdown that gave Iowa a 14-0 first-quarter lead against Indiana.

IOWA CITY, Ia. -- Iowa senior defensive tackle Carl Davis gave thanks after Saturday's 45-29 victory over Indiana to an unlikely crew.

With Iowa's usually stout defense struggling to contain the speedy Hoosiers, the much-maligned Iowa offense came to the rescue before an announced crowd of 68,590 at Kinnick Stadium.

"We've been having slow starts throughout the year, and today, to have them just fire out and have a real good day was great and (a) relief for us," Davis said of the Iowa offense, which entered Saturday's game ranked 10th in the Big Ten. "There was less pressure on us. They really helped us out today. It was a great team victory."

The way in which the Iowa offense helped the defense also came as a surprise with quick strikes and big plays leading the way.

Iowa led 28-7 after the first quarter as the offense accounted for three of the four touchdowns. Junior quarterback Jake Rudock threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Jake Duzey to begin the scoring barrage with 4 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first quarter.

Sophomore cornerback Desmond King then returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown, expanding Iowa's lead to 14-0 with 3:37 left in the first quarter.

Both offenses were just starting to heat up.

The Iowa offense showed an explosive side for a change as Rudock threw a 72-yard pass touchdown pass to senior receiver Damond Powell with 1:55 left in the first quarter.

Indiana answered with an 83-yard touchdown run by Tevin Coleman, but then Iowa only needed nine seconds to counter with a 60-yard touchdown run by redshirt freshman Jonathan Parker on a sweep play.

Indiana scored back-to-back touchdowns early in the second quarter, including a 45-yard run by Coleman with 10:33 left before halftime, slicing the deficit to 28-21.

Iowa finally seized the momentum by scoring 10 consecutive points to close out the first half. Junior Marshall Koehn made a 22-yard field with 4:57 left in the second quarter, and senior running back Mark Weisman bulled into the end zone from 1 yard on the final play of the second quarter, giving Iowa a 38-21 lead at halftime.

In all, the first half included three one-play scoring drives, one two-play scoring drive and a pick six. Iowa finished the first half with 300 yards, while the Hoosiers had 247 in the first two quarters.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was asked after Saturday's victory, which improved his team's record to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten, if he thought he was watching a basketball game in the first half.

"Basketball or arena ball," Ferentz said. "I couldn't make up my mind. We're the birthplace of arena football, probably appropriate today.

"I'm not fond of a scoring contest that's for sure. But boy, it looked like it had the chance to be one."

Looks proved deceiving, though, because both teams combined to score just 15 points in the second half.

Rudock strengthened his hold on the starting position by completing 19-of-27 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns. The Weston, Fla., native did most of his damage during the wild first half, completing 14-of-18 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns.

Sophomore backup C.J. Beathard also played some on Saturday, but he only completed 2-of-5 passes for 9 yards.

"We had a couple of plans, and one of the scenarios we forgot to cover is what unfolded today," Ferentz said of using his two quarterbacks. "It was just a wild game, a weird game.

"You play things by feel. And nothing's really changed. We like both guys."

Iowa was leading 38-21 when Weisman scored on a 1-yard run with 13:17 left in the fourth quarter. The Hawkeyes finished with a season-high 207 rushing yards, led by Weisman's 89 yards on 25 carries.

Indiana refused to go away, though, as Coleman scored his third touchdown of the game on a 69-yard run with 12:16 left in the fourth quarter.

"Those three runs that Coleman had were outstanding runs," Ferentz said. "I said during the week, all their backs are good. And they are, they're all good, but he's really good. You get on the field live with a guy and you really find out what he's like and what he's all about.

Indiana was threatening to score again when junior free safety Jordan Lomax intercepted a pass in the end zone with 1:16 left to play. It was Lomax's first career interception.

Indiana suffered a blow when starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld left the game in the first half with an apparent injury. He was replaced by freshman Chris Covington, who struggled as a passer, completing just 3-of-12 attempts for 31 yards.

The 38 points scored by Iowa in the first half Saturday equaled the most points against a Big Ten opponent under Ferentz. The Hawkeyes also scored 38 points in one half against Minnesota in 2005.

After a rocky first series on offense in which Iowa went three plays and out and starting right guard Jordan Walsh limped off the field with an ankle injury, the Hawkeyes hit the ignition switch behind Rudock.

"I think every day you try to prove yourself and just try to show why you're out there," Rudock said when asked if he felt he had something to prove to his critics. "Whatever you guys want to say, you'll say.

"But I was just going out there to help our team win. It was a good team win."

Iowa will bring a three-game winning streak into Saturday's game at Maryland. It'll mark the first time the teams have faced each other in football, with Maryland joining the Big Ten this season, along with Rutgers.