IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa’s defense made two safes in the second half, and the Hawkeyes opened the season with a 7-3 win over South Dakota State on Saturday.
Neither team could do much offensively. Iowa ended the game with 166 yards of offense while South Dakota State had 120 yards. The two teams combined for more punts (21) than first downs (16).
“Obviously a very unusual goal line,” said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. “You have 3 (in the first quarter), 2 (in the third quarter), 2 in the fourth. I’ve never been to a game like this. But we’ll take it today.”
Iowa finished seventh nationally with four defensive touchdowns last season, so the Hawkeyes are used to taking points from this side of the ball. And they needed them on a day when the offense was struggling.
“The standard was set,” said linebacker Jack Campbell, who recorded one of the safety’s and finished with 12 tackles.
The first safety came after Iowa’s Tory Taylor knocked his punt down at the South Dakota State 1-yard line in the third quarter. A game later, Campbell grabbed running back Isaiah Davis after accepting the handoff and knocked him down a yard before exiting the end zone.
The second safety came in the fourth when Iowa’s Joe Evans sacked quarterback Mark Gronowski in the end zone on games two and eleven.
“We’re trying to score as many goals defensively as we can,” said Iowa safety Quinn Schulte.
The Hawkeyes held the state of South Dakota in its own territory for most of the game. Ten of Taylor’s punts were knocked down within the Jackrabbits’ 20-yard line, including one on the 2 and one on the 1.
“Tory did a great job,” Ferentz said. “I also don’t think I’ve ever seen a player get so involved in a game.”
Taylor averaged 47.9 yards per punt.
“The field position was really difficult for us,” said John Stiegelmeier, South Dakota State coach. “It’s hard to go out there and think in your mind that we have to go 98 yards against that defense.”
Iowa took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter with Aaron Blom’s 46-yard field goal. The only points for South Dakota State came on Hunter Dustman’s 44-yard field goal 20 seconds before halftime.
Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras completed 11 of 25 passes for 109 yards. Leshon Williams had 72 rushing yards.
Gronowski was 10 of 26 passing for 87 yards. Davis had 18 carries for 50 yards.
Iowa was without three offensive starters — wide receivers Keagan Johnson and Nico Ragaini, and running back Gavin Williams. All three missed preseason camp due to unknown injuries. Starting linebacker Jestin Jacobs left the game with an injury in the second quarter and did not return.
South Dakota State tight end Tucker Kraft, a second-team Associated Press FCS All-American last season, injured himself after catching a pass in the first quarter and did not return.
THE TAKE AWAY
Despite a 10-win season, Iowa had one of the nation’s worst offenses last year, finishing 99th on offense and 121st overall. Petra’s struggles drew plenty of boos from the sold-out crowd at Kinnick Stadium, and with rival Iowa State arriving next Saturday, there will be plenty of questions for Ferentz to answer.
“I still have a lot of faith in him,” said Ferentz. “I think the noise outside is probably a lot louder than inside.”
South Dakota State, down 2-10 against FBS teams, struggled to move the ball against Iowa’s defense, which was among the best in the nation last season.
https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/34517062/second-half-safeties-lead-iowa-south-dakota-state-7-3-offensively-inept-game Second-half safeties lead Iowa past South Dakota State 7-3 in offensively inept game