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Overtime: Kirk Ferentz Becomes Iowa Football’s Winningest Coach

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By Jack Brandsgard (  09/03/18

With Iowa’s 33-7 triumph over Northern Illinois on Saturday, Kirk Ferentz earned his 144th career win, passing Hawkeye legend Hayden Fry for most in school history and moving into the top-five all-time in the Big Ten coaching books.

Ferentz has managed to achieve longevity in an industry notorious for its turnover. Since Ferentz’s first win in 1999 (fittingly, over Northern Illinois), 27 current Hawkeyes have been born. Iowa is the only school in the country to employ just two head coaches since 1979, and Ferentz is the nation’s longest-tenured active head coach.

The milestone was an emotional moment for a normally stoic coach.

“Everybody was crying,” Levi Paulsen said. “I think everybody realizes that the University of Iowa is a special place. The culture that Coach Ferentz has (built) and sustained over time is just second to none.”

As for the game itself, it was a tale of two halves. Iowa fans waved after a scoreless first quarter, and the water tower Tigerhawk peered down as Miguel Recinos nailed a 33-yard field goal toward the north endzone to give the Hawkeyes a 3-0 halftime lead.

It was much of the same from 2017. Iowa’s offense sputtered, plagued by drops and uncharacteristic penalties. Things changed in the second half.

Toren Young provided a spark, busting loose for big runs on both of Iowa’s third-quarter touchdown drives. Noah Fant caught the 13th touchdown of his career, tying him with Mike Flagg for most by a tight end in school history. But the defense was the story of the game.

Northern Illinois had six drives in the second half against Iowa’s starting defense. Here’s how they ended: three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out, fumble, three-and-out, safety. The Huskies started the third quarter with 146 total yards and ended it with 144, and had just 65 total yards in the second half. 64 of those came against Iowa’s reserves on the final drive.

“They were definitely coming out a little harder in the second half and they really wanted to win,” quarterback Marcus Childers said.

Head coach Rod Carey was more blunt: “They got after our butt.”

Players and coaches, both current and former, showered Ferentz with compliments after the game. True to form, Ferentz deflected the praise.

“I want to take a moment and start out by congratulating our players first and foremost,” Ferentz said in his opening remarks. “The coaching staff. Our fans were outstanding today. And special kudos to our grounds people.”

Ferentz finally acknowledged his place in history, saying he is extremely fortunate to have been surrounded by great people throughout his time at Iowa.

Finally, the man who vacations in his backyard revealed his plans for celebration.

“It was a good day for us,” Ferentz said. “Maybe a little extra ice cream tonight, you never know. Really cut it loose.”

Saturday was all about Kirk Ferentz, but he would rather have it any other way.

Final Team Stats Below