IOWA CITY — Tip of the finger.
A brush of the hand?
In the end, all that mattered Saturday at Kinnick Stadium was Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott lay sprawled out on the turf, football in hand, surrounded by jubilant teammates.
Knott used the word “luck” four times to describe his decisive tip and interception in the Cyclones’ grinding 9-6 Cy-Hawk Series win at Iowa.
His coach, Paul Rhoads, chose more glowing terms.
“Just a phenomenal football play,” said Rhoads, who saw Knott leap, tip, then clutch that fateful, near-miss James Vandenberg pass at the ISU 24-yard line with 1:11 left. “(Former Pitt coach) Dave Wannstedt said — we were playing West Virginia — and he said, ‘These are the games that legends are made in.’” And a guy by the name of Darrelle Revis had a punt return that was a phenomenal, phenomenal football play. Jake Knott made that kind of play in a series that will have him go down in history for that play he made.”
The Hawkeyes (1-1) were finally rolling — driving from their own 10-yard line and possibly toward their fifth straight home win in the series.
Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, with four catches for 61 yards, was a big reason for that progress.
Vandenberg tried to hit him one more time, but Knott read it, jumped, and gave ISU (2-0) its first two-game Cy-Hawk win streak since the last triumph at Kinnick, in 2002, capped a string of five victories in a row.
“The first thing is just to get your hand on it and knock it down,” Knott said. “But when you get closer to it you realize, ‘Hey, I might be able to control it; control the angle of the drop. I was lucky enough to do that.”
It was the lowest-scoring game in the series since Iowa walked off with a 10-3 win in 1988.
It was a far cry from last year, where the Cyclones scored a wild 44-41 triple-overtime home win.
And ISU’s triumph came despite three red-zone turnovers — including a fourth-quarter interception Hawkeye linebacker James Morris made at the goal line and returned to midfield.
“There’s only two things I want to say,” said Cyclone quarterback Steele Jantz, who threw for 241 yards and a touchdown, but also tossed two interceptions. “First is praise God, and second is defense. You guys saw it out there.”
It started up front.
The Hawkeyes eked out 68 rushing yards on 28 carries.
Vandenberg threw for 236 yards, but also threw an interception to Cyclone safety Jacques Washington.
“We are not there yet,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I think that’s fairly obvious right now.”
Still, the Hawkeyes had chances.
An apparent touchdown pass to Keenan Davis that might have led to a 10-9 lead late in the third quarter was called back after review.
A first and goal at the three turned into a 21-yard Mike Meyer field goal — thanks to ISU’s defense.
“They did a great job up front of getting push and letting us linebackers flow to the football,” Cyclone linebacker A.J. Klein said.
The game’s lone touchdown came on Jantz’s five-yard pass to Aaron Horne with 9:55 left in the first quarter.
Forty-nine minutes later, Knott made his signature play and ISU went into its victory formation.
Settle on meaningful.
“When you understand the rivalry and you’ve been here and you’ve seen it all,” Knott said, “it’s kind of a dream come true, almost, to be able to do that.”