Tuesday, 16th April 2024

Hawkeyes hammer Purdue en route to bowl eligibility

Posted on 09. Nov, 2013 by in Iowa Football


By Brendan Stiles


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — All week long, there were ongoing questions about the Iowa Hawkeyes’ offensive identity, and to be more specific, how the running game wasn’t on par with where it was earlier in the season.

Whatever questions surrounded Iowa’s ground attack before playing Purdue on Saturday were answered after hammering the Boilermakers to the tune of a 38-14 win that makes the Hawkeyes bowl-eligible, as they now sit at 6-4 overall with two games remaining (3-3 in the Big Ten). Iowa reaches bowl eligibility one year following a disastrous 4-8 campaign in 2012.

“You can only sit in front of a fireplace for so long, so it’s really exciting,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “The best part about it is you keep your team together for another month and you always have a chance to compete against a good opponent. Those are the two best byproducts, by far.”

Purdue’s defense came in giving up an average of 212 yards per game on the ground, far more than any other team in the conference. Iowa accumulated 318 yards rushing on 52 carries Saturday, with the bulk of those carries and yards coming from third-string running back Jordan Canzeri.

Just a week after leading the Hawkeyes in rushing with 58 yards on five carries against Wisconsin, Canzeri was at it again Saturday. He picked up 14 yards on his first carry and became more and more prominent in Iowa’s game plan. The sophomore emerged with 165 yards rushing on 20 carries and scored the Hawkeyes’ first touchdown of the game from two yards out to put them ahead 7-0 early in the second quarter.

“The line just had great blocks again, and the call was great,” Canzeri said about that first carry. “You know, whenever you have a good play like that, it does spark you up a little bit and then for it to spark the team up, too, it’s a great thing.”

Meanwhile, the Hawkeye defense was holding its own. Whether it was a toss sweep or a short-yardage pass being called by Purdue offensive coordinator John Shoop, the Boilermakers couldn’t muster much of anything. One big reason why was the play of Iowa’s defensive ends — junior Mike Hardy and sophomore Drew Ott.

Hardy was second on the team in tackles Saturday with six of them, while Ott recorded five tackles and a team-high 1.5 sacks for the Hawkeyes.

“After we made some adjustments, that helped us out a lot,” Ott said. “It put me and Mike both in better positions to make plays, so after that got done, I think we did a pretty good job.”

The one time Purdue was able to strike came off an Iowa miscue in the second quarter when junior wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley muffed a punt that the Boilermakers recovered at the Iowa 35-yard line. Purdue would score six plays later when quarterback Danny Etling connected with Kurt Freytag for a 2-yard strike that tied the game at 7-7.

Martin-Manley would redeem himself though on the ensuing Hawkeye possession. Two plays after sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock overthrew a wide open Martin-Manley in the end zone, Iowa faced 3rd-and-7 from the Purdue 22 when Rudock went to Martin-Manley, who proceeded to come down with a touchdown catch while being double-covered by Boilermaker defensive backs. That score gave the Hawkeyes a 14-7 lead with 1:57 remaining in the first half and the score would remain that at halftime.

“I told him when we got back to the huddle, ‘Man, we can make those plays all the time. You trust me, we trust you,'” Martin-Manley said. “Plays like that was what we needed.”

Momentum had swung in Iowa’s favor to start the second half and it permanently stayed with the Hawkeyes following a key play early in the third quarter. Purdue had driven into Hawkeye territory when senior linebacker Christian Kirksey recovered a Raheem Mostert fumble at the Iowa 29-yard line.

“The ball just popped out and I happened to be there to pick it up,” Kirksey said.

On the ensuing series, Iowa literally ran 71 yards down the field and went up 21-7 when junior running back Mark Weisman scored from four yards out with 3:43 left in the third quarter. From there, the Hawkeyes continued pounding the football and Rudock eventually threw his second touchdown pass of the game near the goal-line to sophomore tight end Jake Duzey, giving Iowa a 31-7 lead with 6:29 left.

Now knowing it will play a 13th game sometime in either late December or early January, the Hawkeyes can now position themselves to potentially move up the Big Ten’s bowl pecking order when they return to the gridiron Nov. 23 to play Michigan at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa has a bye next week before playing its home finale for the season.

For now though, the question becomes how much more involved Canzeri becomes in the ground game going forward in contrast to juniors Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock. Weisman had 30 yards rushing and a touchdown on nine carries, while Bullock had 85 yards rushing on 10 carries.

“We’ll see what happens,” Ferentz said. “But he performed really well today and I thought he ran tough.

“We’ve got confidence in all of those guys.”


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