IOWA CITY — In the tumble of it all, Joe Gaglione ended up with a 305-pound guard lying on top of him with his hand under his facemask.
Gaglione said Central Michigan’s Darren Keyton poked him in the eye. Gaglione, a senior and one of the positive stories Iowa has had going early this season, bucked him off well after the whistle. Referee Shawn Smith noticed and dropped the flag. Gaglione held his arms out and plead his case. Smith didn’t make eye contact and pounded the gavel.
“When you have a guy lying on you for six seconds and he does something, too, it’s hard,” Gaglione said.
What did he do? “Poked me in the eye,” Gaglione said. “It’s hard to deal with. It was bad judgment on my part. I’ve got to move on and prepare for the next game.”
Gaglione wasn’t the only one. The Hawkeyes were hit with four personal foul calls in their 32-31 loss to Central Michigan. Gaglione’s just hurt the worst.
It gave the Chippewas a first down at Iowa’s 39 with 19 seconds left. CMU quarterback Ryan Radcliff scrambled for 9 yards on the next play. After an incomplete pass and a timeout freeze, CMU kicker David Harman booted a 47-yarder that turned 70,585 at Kinnick Stadium into zombies.
Deserve had nothing to do with it. Officials from the NFL to Metro Youth notice the aftermath. They don’t look or simply can’t see the eye poke buried in the pile, but they’ll never miss a retaliation.
“It’s our responsibility to play cleaner, smarter,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “You end up with nine penalties, that wasn’t the whole story, but that didn’t help our cause at all and when you’re in a one-point ballgame, that’d be the first place I’d start.”
– Redshirt freshman linebacker Travis Perry was called for a personal foul for what looked to be continuing play through a whistle. Instead of starting at their 33, the Hawkeyes were marched to the 18. After a Mark Weisman fumble, CMU turned it into a field goal.
– Cornerback B.J. Lowery got caught with a reaction. The 15-yard penalty led to a CMU field goal and a 23-14 lead just before halftime.
– Wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley earned a personal foul in the first quarter. It still didn’t stop Iowa from scoring a TD, so the Hawkeyes lived through that one.
All told, Iowa committed nine penalties for 106 yards. The last time the Hawkeyes had nine penalties was 2010 when it sneaked out of Indiana with an 18-13 win. The last 100-plus yards of penalties was in 2007 when Iowa was hit with 111 penalty yards in a win at Northwestern.
But it was the personal fouls against CMU that had to be particularly galling for all involved. Three led to points for the Chippewas. Three happened in the first half, and then Gaglione’s came at the worst time possible, when every inch mattered and Iowa’s defense, as it was all day, was hanging on for dear life.
“I think it’s just guys and maybe their pride,” linebacker James Morris said about personal fouls. “Somebody pushes them, I’ve got to push them back. I’ve got to show this guy . . .
“That’s a losing battle you’re never going to win, in my mind. You just walk away. It’s the heat of the game and, unfortunately, that’s a part of it, so we’ve got to be smarter.”
Gaglione was contrite and still in some state of shock in the postgame.
“Joe’s played well for us, it looked like he played well today,” Ferentz said. “It’s the age-old story of the second guy in. I don’t doubt that whatever was happening was happening, but you still can’t take that risk and do something that might construed as a personal foul.
“. . . You just can’t take that risk.”