Northwestern’s explosiveness was on display in the second quarter.
The Wildcats led Iowa, 7-3, but the Hawkeyes punted from NU’s 38 and cornerback Micah Hyde downed the punt at the 1-yard line, pinning the Cats about 15 yards from the purple awning that leads to their lockerroom.
That changed on first down.
Running back Venric Mark took an inside handoff 72 yards to Iowa’s 27. Hyde was the last Hawkeye standing and he caught Mark from behind.
Didn’t matter. Six plays later, NU quarterback Kain Colter ran an option left for a 2-yard TD, giving the Cats a 14-3 lead with 11:44 left before halftime.
At this point, the Cats had 174 rushing yards to just 15 for Iowa.
Sophomore running back Mark Weisman still didn’t have explosiveness off his sprained right ankle and appeared to suffer a hip injury late in the second quarter. Sophomore Damon Bullock, in his first game since suffering a concussion Sept. 15, showed the little spark Iowa’s offense was able to provide, rushing seven times for 43 yards.
But it wasn’t enough.
Late in the half, Iowa had a first down at Northwestern’s 27. From there, Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis called a run for Weisman, who limped off the field thereafter, a wide receiver screen that went for 1 yard and then, on third-and-7, had QB James Vandenberg in the shotgun. He took a 6-yard sack when no receiver broke open.
On fourth-and-13, Iowa tried what looked like a back-shoulder throw, from Vandenberg to wide receiver Keenan Davis. It looked like it, but it didn’t act like it. The ball fluttered short and skidded to the turf as Davis kept running toward the end zone.
It’s game No. 8 and that is still happening.
The Cats had all the explosive plays. Iowa had the nice offensive numbers. And the Cats had the 14-3 lead.
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