Hawkeyes Fly by the Eagles 27-20 in Pinstripe Bowl, End Post-Season Skid

 HawkeyesMic.com – Podcasting 11 Years of Original Content on Iowa Athletics

By Jack Brandsgard (jbrandsgard@hawkeyesmic.com) and

John Patchett (john@hawkeyesmic.com)   12/27/17

It wasn’t pretty, but Iowa got the job done.

Judging by the first half stats, Iowa seemed doomed to lose its sixth straight bowl game. The Hawkeyes were outgained 281 to 56 in total yardage, allowed Boston College to convert 5-of-8 third down tries (including a fourth down conversion), and looked completely lost in all three phases.

The first break of the game came immediately and went in Iowa’s favor when Jake Gervase fielded a tipped pass and returned it to BC’s six yard line. The Hawkeyes went shotgun all three plays, threw a fade to Shaun Beyer, and stalled out, eventually settling for a Miguel Recinos chip-shot.

The Eagles ran right down Iowa’s throat on the ensuing drive, with 240-pound bruiser AJ Dillon steamrolling his way to the end zone to cap a 14-play, 62-yard drive. The Hawkeyes had the Eagles where they wanted them a few times but failed to get off the field. Boston College picked up two third down conversions and a fourth down try to keep their drive alive.

Akrum Wadley, the star of the day for Iowa, took the following kickoff 72 yards down to Boston College’s 16 yard line. After a bogus unsportsmanlike conduct penalty saved Iowa from a sack, the Hawkeyes took advantage with a touchdown pass to Noah Fant.

After the questionable start, Offensive Coordinator Brian Ferentz dialed up a beauty for Iowa’s first touchdown. Out of shotgun, Stanley faked a handoff as Fant came across the formation. Boston College’s linebackers bit on the play-action, leaving Fant open to stroll into the end zone untouched. Iowa retook the lead, 10-7.

Boston College again had an answer. Amani Hooker had flashbacks to the Penn State game when he came up just short of successfully batting a pass. Hooker got a fingertip on a ball, but it ended up in Tight End Tom Sweeney’s hands for a for a another BC touchdown.

Hawkeyes fans were growing frustrated. Iowa had managed two big plays—Gervase’s interception and Wadley’s kickoff return—while Boston College had sustained drives with third and fourth down conversions.

Iowa fans were also upset with Colten Rastetter’s poor punts. After Stanley pooched a ball inside the five yard line, calls to #LetStanleyPunt ran amuck on Twitter. AJ Dillon broke loose for a 66-yard burst to set up a Boston College field goal, giving the Eagles a 17-10 lead.

Complaints about Iowa’s special teams came to a head when Rastetter rugby-punted a 20-yarder off of long snapper Tyler Kluver’s back, gifting Boston College the ball at Iowa’s 42 yard line with under a minute left in the half.

BC’s kicker blew an easy field goal, so it didn’t cost the Hawkeyes, but it was a completely unnecessary situation created by a stalled-out offense and a mediocre punter. Iowa should have felt lucky to jog into the Yankee Stadium locker room only down by seven.

True to form, Iowa proved to be a completely different team in the second half than the one that showed up in the first. Nate Stanley connected with Nick Easley on a 32-yard gain that set up an Akrum Wadley rushing touchdown. 17 all—brand new ball game.

Both teams traded field goals and were locked in a struggle to control the game. One big play could bust things loose.

Anthony Nelson delivered with a swift outside rush, using his 6’8” frame to poke the ball loose from the hands of Boston College’s QB Darius Wade. Parker Hesse pounced on the fumble and the Hawkeyes were in business in the Eagle’s territory.

Wadley exploded to the BC’s 18 yard line on the next play, and TE Nate Wieting took his first career catch to the half yard line before FB Drake Kulick gave the Hawkeyes the lead for good on a fullback dive. 27-20, Iowa, 3:09 to play.

As it was asked to do all year, the Iowa defense needed to hold serve. The unit turned to All-American Cornerback Josh Jackson, who secured his Iowa record-tying and FBS-best eighth interception of the season to lock-down the game. It was only right that the defense, which carried Iowa throughout much of the season, came up with the two decisive plays down the stretch. With Gervase and Jackson’s interceptions, Iowa finished the season tops in the FBS with 21 picks.

While the Hawkeyes had no turnovers in this game, it forced three critical Boston College turnovers – which resulted in 10 points for Iowa – the difference in the game.

Successfully running the football is always a key for Iowa’s Offense. Since the start of the 2015 season, the Hawkeyes record when rushing for 100 or more yards in a game is now 28-1 vs. 0-11 when not. This season alone, Iowa is 8-0 when running for 100 yards or more and 0-5 when failing to achieve that mark. In this game, Iowa had 101 yards on the ground and 99 passing. That’s only 200 yards of total offense but it was enough to garner the win.

Akrum Wadley was named the Pinstripe Bowl MVP – in his last game as a Hawkeye – and boy did he deserve it: 283 all-purpose yards, 88 rushing yards and one TD, 24 receiving yards, and a whopping 171 kickoff return yards (an Iowa record in a bowl game).

Quarterback Nate Stanley played far from his best game of the season – but he hit some very big and critically important passes in the crunch. He finished 8-15 for 99 yards and one touchdown. The most important completions were to Tight End Noah Fant on an eight yard TD (Fant’s 11th touchdown reception this season), 32 yards to Wide Receiver Nick Easley that set up Wadley’s five yard rushing TD, and then the icing on the cake – a 17 yard toss to Tight End Nate Weiting to the half yard line that led to Fullback Drake Kulick’s plunge for the winning score.

Given the terrible field surface conditions, coupled with the icy-cold weather, Place Kicker Miguel Recinos was perfect on the night – and every one of his points were big. Recinos has been a pleasant surprise in his first season as the starter. In this game he was 3-3 on PATs and 2-2 kicking field goals. If only Iowa had a punter – but that’s a problem the coaching staff will need to solve in 2018.

The win snaps Iowa’s five-game bowl skid and gives Kirk Ferentz his 143rd win, tying the legendary Hayden Fry for the Iowa record as the winningest head football coach. The Hawkeyes finish the year 8-5. The off-season will seem much shorter than it would have with a sixth consecutive bowl loss. It’s a critical win for this program and provides much-needed momentum heading into 2018.

Iowa vs. Boston College Pinstripe Bowl Postgame Notes

(From Iowa Athletic Communications)

POSTGAME NOTES

Iowa (8-5) defeated Boston College (7-6), 27-20, on Wednesday at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz (143-97) recorded his 143rd win at Iowa, tying Hayden Fry (143-89-6) as the Hawkeyes’ all-time winningest football coach. The 143 wins rank fifth in overall coaching wins in the Big Ten Conference.

Iowa improved to 7-8 in bowl games since 2001. Only Ohio State (8) has more bowl wins among Big Ten teams since 2001.

INDIVIDUAL SUPERLATIVES

RB Akrum Wadley was named Pinstripe Bowl MVP. He had an Iowa bowl record 171 kickoff return yards. The previous record was held by C.J. Jones (169 vs. USC, 2003 Orange Bowl). His 72-yard KO return at the end of the first quarter was a career-long.

  • Wadley finished the game with a career-high 283 all-purpose yards (88 rushing, 24 receiving, 171 kickoff return). He has 3,904 career all-purpose yards, ninth most in program history (2,872 rush, 761 receiving, 271 KO returns).
  • Wadley rushed 22 times for 88 yards today. He has 536 career carries for 2,872 rushing yards, fifth all-time.
  • Wadley had one rushing touchdown today (5 yards). He has 28 career rushing touchdowns, fourth all-time, 35 career touchdowns, tying Sedrick Shaw for second all-time, and 210 career points, 10th all-time.

DB Josh Jackson’s fourth-quarter interception was is eighth of the season, tying a single-season school — Desmond King (2015), Lou King (1981), and Nile Kinnick (1939). Jackson’s 8 INTs lead the nation.

FS Jake Gervase recorded an interception, his third of the season, on Boston College’s first drive of the game. Iowa leads the NCAA with 21 INTs.

QB Nate Stanley’s 8-yard TD to TE Noah Fant was his 26th touchdown pass of the season, tying Brad Banks (2002) for No. 2 on Iowa’s single-season record list. Chuck Long holds the single-season record with 27 TD passes (1985).

LB Josey Jewell had 11 tackles today. He has 22 career games with double-digit tackles, including nine this season.

  • Jewell has 437 career tackles, fourth all-time in program history behind Abdul Hodge (453), Andre Jackson (465), and Larry Station (492). He passed Brad Quast (435) today.
  • Jewell had 136 tackles this season, a single-season career high and the most by a Hawkeye since Pat Angerer in 2009 (145).

TE Noah Fant caught an 8-yard TD reception, his team-high 11th of the season. The 11 TDs are a single-season record for an Iowa tight end. Mike Flagg holds the career record with 13. Fant’s 11 touchdowns are the most by a Hawkeye since Marvin McNutt caught 12 touchdown passes in 2012.

WR Matt VandeBerg played in his 54th career game, more than any other player in school history. VandeBerg ended his career having at least one reception in 32 consecutive games played.

  • VandeBerg has 134 career receptions, 10th most in program history.
  • He has 1,686 career receiving yards, 15th in program history.

DE Anthony Nelson’s fourth quarter sack was his seventh of the season, a single-season career best (6 in 2016). The sack forced a fumble (recovered by Parker Hesse), setting up Iowa’s game-winning touchdown. Hesse and Nelson teamed for a sack on Boston College’s final drive of the game.

TE Nate Wieting 17-yard reception was his first career reception. It set up FB Drake Kulick’s first career rushing touchdown (1 yard).

DE Nathan Bazata recorded a career-high nine tackles in his final game as a Hawkeye. Freshman Matt Hankins had a career-best seven tackles.

Freshman Tristan Wirfs started at left tackle. He is the first true freshman to start at left tackle in the Ferentz era.

OL Levi Paulsen made his first career start at RT. It was his second career start (RG at Illinois in 2016).

MISCELLANEOUS

Iowa’s defense allowed 102 yards in the second half after allowing 281 in the first half. Iowa outscored Boston College 17-3 in the second half.

Today’s game time temperature (23 degrees) at kickoff was the coldest for an Iowa game since 2013 vs. Michigan (18 degrees).

Iowa won the toss and elected to defer. The Hawkeyes have played 240 games under head coach Kirk Ferentz. Iowa has opened the game on offense 182 times (110-73). The Hawkeyes have opened the game on defense 58 times (33-25).

Instant replay was used one time today:

  • TE Nate Wieting TD reception (Reversed, down at the 1-yard line)

UP NEXT

The Hawkeyes host Northern Illinois in the 2018 season opener on Sept. 1.

Final Game Stats – Team and Individual – Below

Iowa – Boston College Post-Game Notes, Stats, Play-By-Play, and Season Stats are here.