AMES, Iowa – Everything started on first down Saturday for Iowa.
Taking care of business on first down plays was an emphasis from start to finish during a week which led the Hawkeyes to a 27-21 victory over Iowa State.
“Last year, they did a great job on first down and it seemed like we were backed up into long-yardage situations the whole game,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s tough to sustain anything when you’re always looking at third-and-six. We had to get better production on first down and I felt like we did that.’’
That led Iowa to manageable third-yard situations and the Hawkeyes converted.
Iowa moved the chains 11 times on the 20 third-down plays it ran against the Cyclones.
“That was big for us, but the best thing was that we set that up with what we did on first down,’’ Ferentz said.
Iowa State gave itself a chance late, scoring twice in the final 4 minutes, 27 seconds.
The Cyclones recovered an onside kick following Quenton Bundrage’s second touchdown reception of the game, but a leaping fingertip interception by B.J. Lowery put the ball back in the Hawkeyes’ hands.
“I was just trying to make a play,’’ Lowery said. “We needed to stop them and I was in a position to do that.’’
Iowa eventually punted the ball away and Bundrage followed his 26-yard touchdown catch with a 17-yard reception with 2:26 remaining. The Cyclones’ Edwin Arceo attempted another onside kick, but Iowa’s Ray Hamilton recovered.
Fight to the finish
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads appreciated the way his team battled, but said the Cyclones made too many mistakes to deserve a win Saturday.
“I’m pleased with how our football team played the game until the end,’’ Rhoads said. “There were some very dark spots and we were down by a lot of points. They could have folded and let this game turn into a rout, but we played until the final play. We had an opportunity left with one play left to pull out a miracle victory, but we made way too many mistakes.’’
Into the end zone
Jake Rudock scored Iowa’s final touchdown on a 1-yard run with 7 minutes, 5 seconds remaining Satur-day.
It was the fourth rushing touchdown of the season for the Hawkeyes’ sophomore quarterback who has ran for a score in each of Iowa’s three games, something a quarterback has never done before during the 15 seasons Ferentz has coached the team.
Mostly, Rudock was satisfied with the win in his first road test, overcoming an early fumble to complete 14-of-23 passes for 160 yards.
“Anytime you go on the road and get the win, that’s the biggest thing,’’ Rudock said. “We are all just trying to get better, trying to get the win and trying to put ourselves in a good situation.’’
When Kevonte Martin-Manley scored on a 6-yard pass play from Jake Rudock to give Iowa its first points of the game, he reached a career milestone.
The catch was the 99th of the junior’s career and made him the 36th receiver in Hawkeye history to pass 1,000 career receiving yards. He added two later catches and now is among 20 Iowa players with 100 career receptions and 1,000 receiving yards.
“It means something to do that,’’ Martin-Manley said. “It’s a big deal, means I’ve stayed healthy.’’
Center of attention
Iowa State was down to its third team center when Ben Loth was forced into action late in the first quar-ter after Jamison Lalk suffered a sprained knee and was forced out of the game.
Lalk was making his first start at the position after Tom Farniok, a starter in all 27 games he had played for ISU, suffered a knee injury during the Cyclones’ season-opening game against Northern Iowa.
Coach Paul Rhoads has said that Farniok has an outside chance of returning for Iowa State’s next game on Sept. 26 at Tulsa, but should be back for the Oct. 3 Big 12 opener against Texas.
ISU defensive tackle Rodney Coe left the game in first half with a shoulder injury.
Nigel Tribune saw the first action of his career for Iowa State. The cornerback is the first true freshman to play for the Cyclones since the 2011 season, when Jared Brackens, Jevohn Miller and David Irving took the field for the first time.
Shaking things up
Iowa State’s line-up shake-up from its season-opening loss extended into practice this week and Brock Dagel, a redshirt sophomore from Cherokee, Iowa, replaced Bettendorf’s Kyle Lichtenberg at the strong-side tackle position on the ISU offensive line.
Turning back time
Iowa State players wore throwback jerseys on Saturday that were replicas of those worn by Jack Trice and the Cyclones during the 1923 season.
It marked the first time ISU has taken the field in alternate jerseys since 2007, when the Cyclones wore replicas of uniforms worn by the school’s 1977 Peach Bowl team during a 15-13 win over the Hawkeyes.
There was a representative of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – the former Insight Bowl – in the press box at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday. The bowl has contracts with both the Big Ten and Big 12 this season.
In addition to the usual “Beat State’’ and “Beat Iowa’’ T-shirt fare, Cyclone fans sported a new option on Saturday.
A takeoff of the black-and-gold ANF shirts that are a part of Iowa’s America Needs Farmers program, cardinal-and-gold AHF shirts with the same lettering and oval logo could be found in the parking lots outside of Jack Trice Stadium. On the back, the words “Actually Helping Farmers since 1858.’’
Although Jack Trice Stadium seats just 56,800 for football, the Iowa-Iowa State game tends to draw a crowd.
Iowa State officials expected up to 75,000 to be in and around Jack Trice Stadium as tailgate participants had an early start under mostly sunny skies and a southerly breeze with temperatures in the mid 70s.
Saturday’s game was the first of two that Iowa will play on real grass this season.
The Hawkeyes will also play on the real thing on Nov. 9 when they visit Purdue.