AMES – Right place. Right time.
Parker Hesse’s well-timed fourth quarter interception in Saturday’s 44-41 overtime win at Iowa State helped the Iowa football team overcome a 31-21 deficit and positioned the Hawkeyes to tie the score at 31-31.
The junior defensive end picked off a pass by the Cyclones’ Jacob Park on the first play of a drive after a touchdown catch by Ihmir Smith-Marsette cut the ISU lead to 31-28 with 6 minutes, 27 seconds remaining in regulation.
He recorded the second interception of his career two yards behind the line of scrimmage and returned it 13 yards to the Cyclones’ five-yard line.
Hesse said he didn’t feel like he had much of a choice.
“It was going to hit me right in the face,’’ Hesse said. “I really didn’t have to do anything to go get it. The ball pretty much just came to me so I grabbed it and started running.’’
Iowa’s drive stalled at the five, but Miguel Recinos tied the game with a 23-yard field goal.
“We needed something good to happen,’’ said Hesse, who also contributed a career-high seven tackles. “We gave up a lot of yards and a lot of plays, so we’ll have plenty to work on but we kept fighting and got the win we wanted.’’
Boettger injured: Iowa offensive tackle Ike Boettger suffered what coach Kirk Ferentz said is believed to be an Achilles injury that could end the season for the senior.
“That’s what it sounds like,’’ Ferentz said. “We don’t anticipate that he’ll be back anytime soon.’’
Boettger left the game in the third quarter and spent most of the rest of the game watching from on top of a table with ice bags strapped to his inner ankle.
Sean Welsh shifted from guard to tackle and Ross Reynolds moved into the guard position for the rest of the game.
A first: Nick Easley scored Iowa’s first touchdown of the game, part of a collection of seven receptions for 48 yards by the junior-college transfer.
Easley’s score came on a 10-yard pass from Nate Stanley and it tied the game at 7-7 with 4:23 remaining in the opening quarter, answering a 5-yard touchdown catch by ISU’s Allen Lazard.
With the catch, Easley became the first player in Ferentz’s 19 seasons at Iowa to have a touchdown reception in each of his first two career games.
Spreading things out: Easley was one of nine receivers who caught passes thrown by Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley.
“I was feeling comfortable out there,’’ said Stanley, who connected with three receivers in Iowa’s season-opening win over Wyoming. “We’re working hard in practice and that carries over to the games. We have a lot of guys who can catch the football. We showed that today.’’
Three Hawkeyes, Ihmir Smith-Marsette with four receptions, T.J. Hockenson with two and James Butler with one, recorded the first catches of their collegiate careers while Muscatine’s Drake Kulick had a career-best two receptions for 29 yards.
Daniels returns: As anticipated, center James Daniels returned to the lineup on Iowa’s offensive line after missing the opener with a knee injury.
“I felt good, felt strong,’’ Daniels said. “I’m not a guy who likes to sit so I was ready to get back on the field for practice last week and then today. It was time to get the season going.’’
Daniels could have played in Iowa’s opener, but was withheld to reduce the risk of the injury becoming a nagging issue.
With his return, Keegan Render shifted back to the left guard position, while Alaric Jackson at left tackle, Sean Welsh at right guard and Ike Boettger at right tackle started for the second week in a row on the Iowa offensive front.
By the yard: Iowa State piled up 467 yards of total offense, the fifth straight game the Cyclones have topped the 400-yard mark
Adding on: Allen Lazard continued to add to his own school records, catching a pass in his record 37th consecutive game when he scored on a five-yard pass play to give Iowa State a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Although he has collected an ISU-record 184 receptions during his college career, that initial touchdown was the first Lazard has scored against the Hawkeyes.
The senior from Urbandale, later scored on a three-yard play as the Cyclones worked to overcome a 14-10 halftime deficit.
Remembering Elliott: The life and spirit of Bob Elliott was recognized before the start of Saturday’s game.
The former Hawkeye player and assistant and former Cyclone assistant who died in July was honored during a video tribute that included comments from his former Iowa teammate and the coach whose staff he was a part of at Iowa State, Dan McCarney.
Working overtime: Saturday’s game was just the second overtime game in the 65 games that Iowa and Iowa State have played against each other.
The Cyclones won the other by an identical 44-41 score in triple overtime in 2011 at Jack Trice Stadium.