Iowa 45, Louisiana-Monroe 17
James Vandenberg threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns and
Iowa cruised past Louisiana-Monroe 45-17 on Saturday.
Marcus Coker added 113 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns
for the Hawkeyes (3-1), who raced out to a 28-3 halftime lead on
the strength of a revitalized passing attack in their final tuneup
before the start of Big Ten play.
Vandenberg threw for 198 yards in the opening half. His 1-yard
TD plunge opened the scoring, and Vandenberg found Marvin McNutt
for TD pass of 13 and 17 yards to put the Hawkeyes up by 25 late in
the second quarter.
Cody Wells had 162 yards passing for ULM (1-3), which gained 352
yards of offense but had no answer for Iowa’s suddenly potent
Louisiana-Monroe started the second half playing like the team
some thought could give the Hawkeyes serious trouble.
By then, it hardly mattered.
The Warhawks finally found the end zone with 9:35 left in the
third quarter, capping an impressive drive on a 4-yard touchdown
run by quarterback Kolton Browning. Iowa simply drove right back
down the field, jumping back ahead 35-10 on Coker’s 2-yard run.
ULM answered with a 1-yard TD run by Tavarese Maye. But a failed
onside kick set the table for Vandenberg’s 23-yard TD pass to
Keenan Davis with 39 seconds left in the third quarter that gave
the Hawkeyes a 42-17 lead.
Wells and Browning combined for 293 yards through the air, but
neither threw a TD pass. ULM couldn’t do much on the ground either,
rushing for just 59 yards on 30 attempts.
Iowa used a hurry-up offense to erase a 17-point deficit in the
fourth quarter and stun Pitt 31-27 last week in the largest
comeback in school history.
The traditionally conservative Hawkeyes went right back to a
no-huddle look on Saturday.
It paid off with by far their best start of the season.
Vandenberg capped a 74-yard opening drive with a 1-yard plunge
to put Iowa up 7-0 less than four minutes in.
ULM answered with Justin Manton’s 43-yard field goal. But the
Hawkeyes drove right back down the field, pushing their lead to
14-3 with 1:39 left in the first on a textbook fade pass from
Vandenberg to McNutt from 13 yards out.
Micah Hyde took a Warhawks punt back to the ULM 29-yard line,
and six plays later Coker ran for a 4-yard TD that put the Hawkeyes
Vandenberg and McNutt hooked up for a touchdown the fourth time
this season with 2:07 left in the first half.
The 6-foot-4 McNutt sealed himself between the cornerback and
the sideline and plucked his 17-yard TD grab out of the air, giving
Iowa a 28-3 lead.
McNutt caught seven passes for 100 yards, reaching the 100-yard
mark for the second game in a row.
Iowa players wore a green decal on their helmets, and many Iowa
fans wore green shirts in honor of former Hawkeyes safety Brett
Greenwood, who remains hospitalized after collapsing following a
workout earlier this month. Greenwood started at safety from
2007-10 and was cut late in training camp by the Pittsburgh
Greenwood’s parents released a statement this week, saying he
continues to make improvements.
Iowa will get next week off before opening play at Penn State on
Oct. 8. The Hawkeyes will be in good shape in Happy Valley if
Vandenberg keeps throwing the ball like he has lately.
Vandenberg has tossed for 669 yards and six touchdowns in his
last two games.