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PURDUE 38, IOWA 36: THE END OF THE ROAD

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THE NAIL IN THE COFFIN FOR IOWA’S B1G WEST HOPES

Iowa v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

David Blough torched Iowa for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns, completely dissecting Iowa’s secondary and handing the Hawkeyes their second consecutive loss (and third on the season) in a 38-36 victory in West Lafayette, effectively ending Iowa’s chances at a Big Ten West title.

The easy story to tell here is one of a porous defense. It was obvious that Iowa’s secondary was going to be in for a long day after the first drive of the game, where Blough went 3-6 and hit Isaac Zico for a 36-yard touchdown—exploiting miscommunication in Iowa’s defensive backfield on a simple post route.

Iowa would answer quickly and with gusto however. Nate Stanley connected on four out of five passes and Ivory Kelly-Martin punched it in from 2 yards out on a drive that started at Iowa’s own 10.

Purdue needed just seven plays to score again, and Iowa would never catch back up to the Boilermakers. Blough connected with Brycen Hopkins for 56 yards after Geno Stone tripped in coverage and Purdue would punch it in from the 1.

Iowa did its best to answer with Purdue’s gutpunches to its secondary. Miguel Recinos hit a 34-yarder on its third drive to make it 14-10.

The Boilermakers would answer thanks to a questionable roughing call on AJ Epenesa. Blough hit Terry Wright two plays later for a 41-yard touchdown. This was the first time Riley Moss got taken to school but it wouldn’t be the last.

Purdue and Iowa traded touchdowns again — Nate Stanley punched it in from the goal line and Blough hit Wright for an 82-yard touchdown on Purdue’s first play of the second half to make it 28-17.

It felt like Purdue was going to sit on Iowa’s throat for the rest of the game here. Nate Stanley wasn’t connecting on many of his throws and was missing guys like we’ve seen all season. Then he hit Noah Fant on a screen for 65 yards and later he found TJ Hockenson on fourth down to cut Purdue’s lead to 5. Iowa went for 2 and missed. This wouldn’t be the first time. That would happen. And it caught up to the Hawks.

Jake Gervase intercepted a deep ball from Blough on the ensuing drive, but Stanley fumbled the first down snap deep in Iowa territory to set up second and long, and an eventual bad punt that Rondale Moore returned to Iowa’s 20 yard line.

Blough hit Wright for the third time to make it 35-23.

But Iowa would answer.

The Hawkeyes covered 75 yards in 12 plays and 5 minutes of clock to get within striking distance. Big gains from Kyle Groeneweg, Hockenson and Ihmir Smith-Marsette set up a Mekhi Sargent punch in from the 1.

35-30 Purdue.

Amani Hooker took Blough’s first pass of the ensuing drive to the house on a nice return from Purdue’s 18, but a holding call on Michael Ojemudia erased the points. Four plays later, Iowa would have its first lead of the game. 36-35 following another failed two-point conversion attempt.

Iowa and Purdue traded punts. Iowa’s last chance at points was squandered by the Hawkeyes shooting themselves in the foot — two holding penalties erased any yards gained and Purdue received a Rastetter punt with around 3 minutes left in the game and the chance to take the lead. We’ve seen this movie before.

Four consecutive run calls to Jones resulted in the most critical point in the game, and that’s when Blough shined: on fourth and short he dove left and weaved through a slew of Iowa defenders to get a first down and eventually allow Spencer Evans to hit the game-winner from 25 yards out. Ballgame.

Iowa had a chance to return in some Cal-Stanford way, but nothing came of it. This is Iowa’s second consecutive loss, and Kirk Ferentz has never beat Jeff Brohm (he’s never beaten James Franklin, either).

This loss stinks. Iowa isn’t very good. It was there for the taking and it slipped.

Other notes

  • Riley Moss probably won’t see the field again this year unless it’s an emergency.
  • Mekhi Sargent asserted himself as Iowa’s best tailback. He had 39 tough yards on 10 carries and another 33 through the air on 4 catches. Iowa got to over 100 yards rushing for the second straight week.
  • David Blough was 15-20 for 211 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. So good on Iowa for slowing him down somewhat in the second half, but it’s always gonna be tough when you’re getting gashed like that early on.
  • I don’t know where Noah Fant is so don’t ask!
  • Same goes for Iowa’s red zone offense!
  • Nate Stanley’s box score is somewhat deceiving: his 21-31 for 275 yards and a score with no picks is fine but he missed open receivers on what seemed like every play. He looked quite lost before finally composing himself.
  • I don’t feel very good about this Iowa football team.