September 3, 2011

Hawkeyes halt Golden Eagles in season opener, 34-7

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Iowa Hawkeyes took advantage of a couple mistakes in the second quarter by Tennessee Tech, outscoring the Golden Eagles 24-0 in that stanza, and it was enough to propel the FBS squad to a 34-7 season-opening victory over the FCS visitors.

The contest featured a delay for rain and lightning that last 1:24. It came with 3:39 to play in the third quarter, as the stands and field were emptied. With the delay, the game lasted four hours and 27 minutes, one of the longest regulation contests in school history.

The crowd of 70,585 -- which had shrunk to a couple thousand by the final gun -- was the third-largest in school history.

Dontey Gay rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, his third career 100-yard effort, to lead the Golden Eagle effort.

The Hawkeyes returned two interceptions for 141 yards, one for an 89-yard touchdown and the other for a 52-yard return that led to a field goal, accounting for 10 quick points in the second period. The Hawkeyes also used an 88-yard pass-and-run play for a touchdown in that stretch.

"We were moving the ball a little bit, but that's Iowa, that's what they do," said head coach Watson Brown. "They think you'll make a mistake before you can get it all the way down there and we did.  We did it twice.

"The first one was the pass rush got in Tre Lamb's face and Adam Urbano thought one thing, Tre thought another, it was an execution thing.  Adam kind of saw a linebacker playing him tight in man and broke out and Tre thought he was going to hook up.  Just part of learning to be more consistent.

"The second one was just a beautiful play by their corner," Brown said. "Tre laid it up thinking our guy could get it; it was one on one on the boundary over there.  He out jumped us for the ball and then we can't tackle him and get him on the ground.  I thought that one was just a beautiful play."

Tech finished with 296 yards in total offense, with 159 on the ground and 156 through the air. In fact, the Golden Eagles had an edge in rushing as Iowa gained 154. The Hawkeyes added 246 through the air for 394 in total offense. 

In addition to his rushing yardage, Gay also had two catches for four yards and returned three kicks for 60 yards, giving him a career-best 172 all-purpose yards, the most in the game.

Senior receiver Tim Benford had seven catches for 60 yards as he continues to creep closer to school records in both receptions and receiving yards.

Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg was 13-for-21 for 219 yards and two touchdowns, with Marvin McNutt being his top target. McNutt had six catches for 140 yards and two scores. Tech starter Tre Lamb, who did a lot of scrambling in the contest against the Hawkeye pressure, was 14-for24 for 128 yards with two interceptions and one sack. Redshirt freshman Darian Stone, seeing his first career action, led Tech's fourth quarter scoring drive, going 3-for-4 for 28 yards.

On defense, Will Johnson and Jake McIntosh led the Tech charts with seven tackles each. Johnson broke up one pass and had a tackle-for-loss. McIntosh also recovered a fumble. Richmond Tooley made five tackles and broke up a pass. Taylor Hennigan had six tackles and caused a fumble, while Dwight Evans made four tackles, one tackle-for-loss and caused a fumble.

Tech trailed just 3-0 after the first quarter on a 39-yard field goal by Mike Meyer. The Hawkeyes scored 24 points in 10 minutes during the second half to take a 27-0 lead into halftime.

In the second half, Iowa made it 34-0 with a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass from Vandenberg to McNutt.

In the fourth quarter, Stone trotted onto the field to direct the offense for the first time in his career and moved the Golden Eagles through their longest drive of the day, a 16-play march that covered 76 yards and lasted 7:43. Stone hit Cody Matthews for a 22-yard stike early in the drive, but Gay was the workhorse, accounting for 47 of the 76 yards on 10 touches. He rushed nine times for 41 yards in the drive, including a one-yard TD with 5:02 remaining.

"It's fantastic to come and play a team that does it the right way. They know how to win games," Brown said. "They don't make mistakes, they stay patient and they hang in there. I've watched Iowa the 12 years Kirk (Ferentz) has been here and all last year. They're not very complicated, they just don't make mistakes. They make you beat them.

"I hope our players can learn a lot from the Iowa kids because that's exactly how I teach our players to win games," he said. "It's not the big plays all of the time. It's consistent football and then it will start balancing your way as time goes on. Give Iowa credit, I think they are going to have a good year."

Tech (0-1) will host Maryville College (0-1) next Thursday night in Tucker Stadium at 7 p.m. Maryville fell, 35-7, to Huntingdon College in its opener Saturday.

PREGAME NOTES:
* A rainstorm is passing through Iowa City, soaking the stadium and the fans. Possibility of rain throughout the entire game.
* Tailgating activities appear to be spread over the entire city! Large pockets of tailgaters as far away as a couple miles, and they are brought to the stadium via shuttle or train.
* Game time decision will be made on starting free safety Marty Jones, who is still recovering from a sprained ankle. If Jones cannot go, it will give junior Taylor Hennigan his first career start with true freshman Austin Tallant in the backup role. Hennigan's father, Mike, was head coach at Tech from 1996 to 2006, after 10 years as defensive coordinator. Mike Hennigan hails from nearby Washington, Iowa, and his family is in the stands.
* Six minutes to kickoff and the stands are only about one-third filled. Most of those in the seats are clad in yellow ponchos. And, there's not lack of enthusiasm because of the rain. Hawkeyes greeted with standing-O and loud cheers.
* Iowa looking very much like the Pittsburgh Steelers in black jerseys with gold numbers, gold pants, black helmets. Golden Eagles will wear white jerseys and white pants, with white helmets.
* Tech game captains are Jake McIntosh, Richmond Tooley, Scott Schweitzer and Charlie Stevens.
* Tech wins coin toss and defers. Iowa will receive.

FIRST QUARTER NOTES:
* Iowa is moving on its first possession, but defense forces fumble and Jake McIntosh recovers at the TTU 23.
* Adam Urbano's first carry as a Golden Eagle goes for 17 yards and a first down.
* Golden Eagle defense forces another fumble at the Iowa 35, but this time the Hawkeyes recover for a first down. Richmond Tooley breaks up pass in the end zone on third-and-seven, so Iowa settles for a 39-yard field goal Mike Meyer. The drive was 14 plays and 58 yards, and lasted 6:25 for a 3-0 Hawkeye lead.
* Midway through the half, most of the seats are filled and the crowd of 70,585 might develop.
* Golden Eagles make a first down, but bad snap halts the drive. Nick Campbell punts, and return man is hit and fumbles. Corey Watson recovers inside the Iowa 15, but ruling on the field is the Iowa return man was down. Tough break for Tech. Replay shows his knee didn't hit, but the call stands.
* Tech defense holds as Will Johnson knocks down a third-down pass attempt. Iowa punts. Quarter ends after Lamb sacked for three-yard loss at the TTU 12. First quarter, Iowa has 117 in total offense while Tech has 20.

SECOND QUARTER NOTES:
* Tech can't move and Campbell's 45-yard punt goes out of bounds at the Iowa 42.
* Richmond Tooley appeared to break up a pass at the goal line, but receiver Keenan Davis stayed with the tipped pass and caught it, and fell into the end zone for an apparent touchdown. Review of the replay had his knee down inside the one. Two plays later, quarterback James Vandenberg pushed into the end zone to make it 10-0. The scoring drive covered 58 yards in eight plays, and lasted 3:32.
* The steady rain has stopped and the skies have become a little lighter.
* Penalities hurt the Golden Eagles, and once again Nick Campbell is called on to punt. His kick is 53 yards and Corey Watson gets downfield and brings down the returner for no gain at the Iowa 17 with 8:16 to play in the half.
* Vandenberg throws one deep down the right sideline and Marvin McNutt makes the catch, avoids a tackle at midfield, and goes 88 yards for a Hawkeye touchdown. The play is reviewed to see if he stepped out of bounds, but the play stands. The PAT makes it 17-0 with 7:20 to play in the half. The drive covered 82 yards in two plays and took 56 seconds. The 88-yard TD was the sixth-longest touchdown pass in Iowa history.
* Tech goes for it on fourth-and-one at the 49, and Lamb's calls draw Iowa offsides for a first down. Next play, Lamb's pass over the middle is intercepted and James Morris returns it all the way down to the Tech nine, a 52-yard return.
* Will Johnson gets to the quarterback, forcing a wobbly pass and Tooley breaks it up in the end zone, forcing a 20-yard field goal by Meyer. It's good and Iowa leads 20-0 with 3:18 to play.
* Golden Eagles beginning to put together a drive, thanks to a brilliant scramble by Tre Lamb, finding Benford for first down. Dontey Gay carries for another first down, and Lamb hits Garrett for six, bringing up second-and-four at the Iowa 40. Tech calls timeout with 1:06 before halftime.
* Lamb hits Benford for another first down at the 33. Clock stops with 29 seconds on an incomplete pass as Lamb's attempt batted down at line of scrimmage.
Lamb's pass downfield intercepted at the 11, and Shawn Prater returns it all the way down the left sideline for a touchdown. The 89-yard interception return is the fifth longest in Iowa history. Kick is good, and with 10 seconds to go, Iowa's lead is 27-0.
* At halftime, Tech trails 27-0.

THIRD QUARTER NOTES:
* Golden Eagles have a nice drive going, moving to the Iowa 13. Tech calls timeout, and the Big Ten Network takes a commercial break. The break is almost as long as Tech's "halftime" during its scrimmages! After the break, an incomplete pass and Matt Barker misses wide left on a 33-yard field goal attempt.
* Iowa drives the length of the field, helped by a personal foul penalty on the Golden Eagles. Scoring play is a catch-and-run for 19 yards by McNutt. It was a 10-play, 80-yard drive that took 4:28. Iowa 34-0 lead with 6:19 to play.
* Lightning in the area, so officials call a mandatory 30-minute weather delay. All personnel leaves the field (Same thing happened last year at Tech vs. Lane, with Golden Eagles leading 43-0. Game was called, an official win for TTU, but none of the stats were official according to NCAA and OVC).
* After more than an hour delay (1:24), teams back on the field for five minute warmup.
* Plays resumes. One play, and Iowa forced to punt. Caleb Mitchell, who broke up the third down pass, makes fair catch at the TTU 19.
* Tech gains three straight first downs and moves the ball into Iowa territory as third quarter comes to a close.

 FOURTH QUARTER NOTES:
* Golden Eagles move to the Iowa 30, but stopped on incomplete fourth down pass attempt.
* True freshmen Austin Tallant (free safety) and Tommy Campbell (tackle) in the lineup.
* Redshirt freshman Darian Stone comes onto the field to direct the offense, his first official action as a Golden Eagle. Tech has three starters on the field (all offensive linemen) and eight from the second unit. Iowa has removed all starters and has 11 from the second unit.
* Fourth-and-one at the Iowa 21 and Gay makes the first down. Gay gets another first down at the 12, giving him his third career game of 100 yards or more. The senior scores from the one, Tech's first TD of the season. Gay now has 24 carries for 108 yards and one touchdown. The TTU scoring drive was 16 plays for 76 yards, and lasted 7:43.