HawkeyesMic.com – Podcasting 11 Years of Original Content on Iowa Athletics
By Jack Brandsgard (firstname.lastname@example.org) 12/29/17
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. Iowa really needed to take full advantage of that opportunity, especially considering BC’s next drive.
The Eagles ran right down Iowa’s throat on the ensuing possession, with 240-pound bruiser AJ Dillon steamrolling his way to the endzone 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 who was later named Pinstripe Bowl MVP, 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, 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 endzone. 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 BC’s Tom Sweeney’s hands for a 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 punts. After Stanley pooched a ball inside the five yard line, calls to #LetStanleyPunt ran amuck on Twitter. It didn’t matter, as 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 bad 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 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-foot-8 frame to poke the ball loose from the hands of Boston College’s Darius Wade. Parker Hesse pounced on the fumble and the Hawkeyes were in business in BC’s territory.
Wadley exploded to the Eagles’ 18 yard line on the next play, and Nate Wieting took his first career catch to the half yard line before Drake Kulick gave the Hawkeyes to 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 Josh Jackson, who secured his Iowa record-tying and FBS-best eighth interception of the season to shore up the game. It was only right that the defense, which carried Iowa throughout 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.
The win snaps Iowa’s bowl skid and gives Kirk Ferentz his 143rd win, tying Hayden Fry for the Iowa record. The Hawkeyes finish the year 8-5.
Final Team Stats Below