IOWA CITY – Iowa defensive tackle Christian Ballard produced one of the hardest hits in Iowa football history Saturday night, and it didn’t show up in the box score.
During linebacker Pat Angerer’s 38-yard interception return midway through the fourth quarter, Ballard wheeled toward the middle of the field looking to pick off a Penn State player. Ballard found Penn State tackle Nerraw McCormack running toward Angerer.
Ballard then unleashed a vicious block on McCormack, sending the 295-pound senior flying through the air nearly 10 feet from the collision. McCormack hit the ground so quickly that his shoulders touched the turf before his back.
“Oh that was crazy,” Angerer said Tuesday. “He smoked that guy. That was nuts. That was wild. That was the biggest hit I’ll probably ever see. Poor guy.”
Ballard laughed and seemed almost embarrassed about the hit when asked on Tuesday. He said the team has emphasized making blocks on interception returns the last two weeks.
“You look at the Iowa State game, and we got three or four picks,” Ballard said. “The D-line wasn’t hustling that much, we weren’t picking up blocks. We’ve got so much excitement going on now, a lot more movement so when people get picks, you turn it into an offensive play. I was just trying to make something happen.”
The play caught everyone’s attention during Sunday’s film session. Iowa center Rafael Eubanks said the hit reinforces for offensive players to be ready at all times when situations are fluid.
“I haven’t been decleated that bad before,” Eubanks said. “I know as soon as you see that ball intercepted you kind of have to have your head on a swivel because those defenders are looking to clock you.”