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Game Report: Hawkeyes Hold Off Nebraska Again

November 29, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

LINCOLN, Neb. – For the second year in a row, Iowa built a big lead against Nebraska. And once again, it needed it.

The Hawkeyes escaped with a 27-24 victory Saturday here at Memorial Stadium after being ahead by 14 points at halftime. The home team tied it at 24-24 with 5:54 remaining in the third quarter.

From there, the team’s exchanged punts and played the field position game. No. 17 Iowa got the better of that, sealing the deal with a Keith Duncan 48-yard field goal with one second to play in the game.

The Hawkeyes knocked off Nebraska, 31-28, last season on a 41-yard field goal from Miguel Recinos as time expired. Iowa held a 15-point, third-quarter lead in that one.

Nebraska may have run its sellout streak to 375 games Saturday, but it showed again that there’s ground to cover before equaling Iowa. The Hawkeyes won their fifth consecutive game in the series and for the sixth time in seven games. The Huskers last won in 2014 when former AD Shawn Eichhorst downplayed the victory by saying he had to evaluate Iowa as a program in justifying the firing of coach Bo Pelini.

The Huskers won nine games in Pelini’s final season, the same total they’ve reached the last two seasons combined. They failed to achieve bowl eligibility for a third campaign in a row.

Meanwhile, Iowa (9-3 overall, 6-3 Big Ten) has reached at least eight wins in each of the five years since Eichorst’s foot appeared in his mouth. The last two seasons, it posted at least nine wins.

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The Hawkeyes struck first on their second possession of Saturday’s game. After an 11-yard run by Tyler Goodson, quarterback Nate Stanley pitched it to him again on the second play from scrimmage. The freshman flipped it to Smith-Marsette, who reversed field and sprinted 45 yards for the touchdown with 11:04 remaining in the first quarter.

On the score, Stanley was leading the way for Smith-Marsette. He ended up not needing to throw a block because no Nebraska defender got close enough to the Iowa receiver.

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After a 41-yard field goal by Husker Matt Waldoch, Iowa hit another big play. Goodson took a handoff and raced 55 yards for a score. The right side of the offensive line, Kyler Schott and Tristan Wirfs, opened the hole.

The Hawkeye defense held on Nebraska’s possession. The next Iowa drive would stall, but Duncan’s 49-yard field goal matched his career best and with his game-winner pulled him within two field goals of the national record. The visitors led 17-3 with 11:37 left before halftime.

The Huskers then went three-and-out for the third time in the half. With the game slipping away, the home team needed a big play from its defense. It received it the form of a Pick-6 from safety Cam Taylor-Britt.

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With the crowd back into it and Iowa searching for an answer, Smith-Marsette provided it. The junior from New Jersey housed a 95-yard kick return, building his team’s advantage back to 24-10 with 8:41 remaining before halftime. That’s where it remained when the teams headed to the locker room.

The Hawkeye offense went into hibernation coming out of the locker room. It was held scoreless until Duncan’s winning field goal.

Goodson finished with 13 carries for 116 yards and a score. Iowa defensive end AJ Epenesa finished with 14 tackles (nine solo), two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss.

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