(Saturday, October 15th)
Final Score: Iowa 41, Northwestern 31
Iowa City, IA (Sports Network) - Marcus Coker ran for a game-high 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns as he helped lead the Iowa Hawkeyes to a 41-31 win over the Northwestern Wildcats in Big Ten Conference action at Kinnick Stadium.
Coker carried the ball 22 times for the Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) as they won for the third time in the last four outings. Quarterback James Vandenberg converted 14-of-22 passes for 224 yards and two scores as well in the triumph.
The Wildcats (2-4, 0-3) were paced by Dan Persa who connected on 31-of-40 passes for 246 yards and a score, but he tossed one interception and was sacked three times. As a team, Northwestern hit on 37-of-51 pass attempts for 342 yards and a total of three touchdowns in the setback.
Iowa ran out to a 17-point lead in the first half, beginning with a 27-yard field goal converted by Mike Meyer on the first drive of the night. Later in the first quarter Tanner Miller picked off a pass and returned it 98 yards the other way for the first touchdown of the evening, giving the hosts a 10-0 edge. Needing just three plays to cover 72 yards, Vandenberg locked up with Keenan Davis for a 47-yard TD pass play at the 9:34 mark of the second period.
Northwestern turned around and put together a 17-point scoring run of its own thanks to a six-yard TD toss from Persa to Jeremy Ebert, a four-yard scoring run by Adonis Smith and a 47-yard field goal from Jeff Budzien which locked the score with 4:19 to play in the third quarter.
Once more it was Iowa's turn to take control of the action as the Hawkeyes began the final frame with a one-yard TD run by Coker and followed that up with a 35-yard TD pass play between Vandenberg and Marvin McNutt. With just under seven minutes remaining in regulation, Meyer stepped on to convert a 40- yard field goal to make the score 34-17 in favor of the hosts.
Refusing to go away quietly, Kain Colter stepped in and tossed an 18-yard TD strike to Drake Dunsmore to cut the deficit to 34-24.
However, almost immediately after, the Hawkeyes were given a short field to work with and they capitalized with a one-yard TD run by Coker to again move out to a 17-point advantage.
Trevor Siemian, the third different quarterback to throw a touchdown pass for the Wildcats on the night, connected with Rashad Lawrence on a 35-yard scoring play at the 2:34 mark of the fourth quarter, but by then Northwestern had run out of time and opportunities to complete the comeback bid.
Iowa grabbed the win despite converting just 1-of-7 on third down and controlling the ball for less than 22 minutes.
The Wildcats converted an astonishing 16-of-22 on third-down plays and rolled up 495 yards of total offense, but that's only because the squad ran 42 more offensive plays than Iowa.
10/15 23:13:51 ET