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Hawkeyes end disappointing November with loss to Gophers

Posted on 28. Nov, 2010 by in Iowa Football

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By Brendan Stiles

HawkeyeDrive.com

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — In years past, November had always been a month to remember for Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes. But 2010 is not one of those years.

With Saturday’s 27-24 loss to Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium, Iowa finishes its regular season 7-5 overall, 4-4 in the Big Ten, and will fall out of the top 25 this weekend as a result.

“It has been a different story each and every week,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “But the bottom line is we didn’t finish well in November, that’s for sure.”

Things started ugly for the Hawkeyes. After the Golden Gophers took an early 3-0 lead, Minnesota kicker Eric Ellestad attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. Ellestad squibbed the ball down the middle and recovered his own kick, setting the Golden Gophers up at their own 42-yard line.

Minnesota would capitalize on the Iowa miscue when back-up quarterback MarQueis Gray scampered into the end zone from 14 yards out to give the Golden Gophers a 10-0 lead before the Hawkeyes even ran an offensive play.

Iowa would eventually respond on the opening play of the second quarter when quarterback Ricky Stanzi hit senior wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos for a 7-yard touchdown strike. Interestingly, Johnson-Koulianos didn’t start. Ferentz said after the game the decision to start senior Colin Sandeman instead was due to Sandeman having a better week of practice.

“There was a lot of football left after they had gone up 10-0,” Stanzi said. “We didn’t do enough. We finally get a touchdown, get a stop, and then we fumble the snap. That one was on me.

“We kept digging ourselves in holes every time we had a chance to get out and get a lead.

Despite that, Johnson-Koulianos was the Hawkeye catalyst in the second quarter. After Minnesota countered Iowa’s touchdown with one of its own, the Campbell, Ohio native returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a Hawkeye touchdown that trimmed Iowa’s deficit to 17-14.

The two teams would exchange 35-yard field goals before halftime, and the Golden Gophers took a 20-17 lead into the locker room that would carry into the fourth quarter.

Iowa would take its first lead of the day in the fourth quarter when Stanzi connected with junior wide receiver Marvin McNutt for an 18-yard touchdown pass that gave the Hawkeyes a 24-20 lead with 11:35 left.

Late in the quarter, however, a disturbing fourth-quarter trend throughout the 2010 season continued. Minnesota would take a 27-24 lead when Duane Bennett ran into the end zone from six yards out with 4:31 remaining. The game-winning drive was highlighted by a enormous 40-yard reception from Golden Gopher wideout Da’Jon McKnight.

“They just ran what we call an ‘8-beater.’ We ran a cover-8 and I had the tight end man-to-man,” Iowa junior safety Tyler Sash said. “He blocked, so I just tried to help out on the long pass. The receiver made a great adjustment to it, and he came down with the play.”

Iowa would once again have a chance to win the game on its final drive. But freshman running back Marcus Coker, who got his second straight start and third in the last four games, lost a crucial fumble. Minnesota would recover the ball and run out the remainder of the clock, retaining Floyd of Rosedale for the first time since 2006.

Now the Hawkeyes won’t know until Dec. 5 where they will be going, or who they will play. But after the way Saturday’s game concluded, one could make the argument that Iowa needs to win, and do so convincingly.

“Whatever Coach asks us to do, we need to do,” Stanzi said. “We need to lead by example as seniors, and we knew to do a better job all-around, as a team. That’s kind of what we need to do right now.”

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