Iowa snapped its seven game losing streak against Missouri State on Saturday.
By Ryan Probasco
The Hawkeyes did not start Saturday’s affair against Missouri State in the fashion they had hoped to. But despite only leading its FCS opponent by 7 points at halftime, Iowa was able to dictate pace in the second half on its way to a 28-14 victory.
“Coming in the locker room at halftime, it didn’t feel like we were even up,” junior wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley said. “It felt like we were down, that was the mood in the locker room. But we kept our heads up and came out strong in the second half.”
The win was Iowa’s first since its double-overtime victory against Michigan State on Oct. 13 of last year. Regaining the feeling that comes with a win, the players said, made the locker room a special place to be following the game.
“Feels great, it was great to hear that song played at the end of the game and get that feeling back in the locker room,” defensive lineman Carl Davis said. “Knowing what it feels like, we want to remind the guys to keep this feeling going.”
Running back Mark Weisman had without a doubt the strongest performance of those donned in Black and Gold on Saturday. The Buffalo Grove, Ill. native ran the ball a career high 30 times for 180 yards and two scores.
His efforts, combined with strong play from the Iowa offensive line, allowed Weisman to gain 6 yards per carry. The junior also surpassed a personal milestone during the victory. Weisman went over the one thousand mark for rushing yards in his career as a Hawkeye.
The feat is especially impressive, considering he’s had at least 20 carries in only seven games for Iowa.
“That means more for the offensive line,” Weisman said of the milestone. “That’s all them right there, give them all the credit … It was fun to run behind them.”
The Iowa defense, aside from a gaffe by true freshman cornerback Desmond King on a 27-yard Missouri State touchdown, controlled the line of scrimmage and only allowed 7 points as a unit. The other seven points came off a pick-six thrown by Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock.
The Hawkeyes were also able to record its first sack of the season, as linebacker Anthony Hitchens continued to improve upon his already stellar 2013 stat line.
“That doesn’t count, the defensive line, we want to have one,” Davis said jokingly. “But that’s good that the defense got a sack finally. I was back there a little bit, but I couldn’t get him. That guy [Missouri State quarterback Kierra Harris] was fast so props to him. He was a good player, that quarterback was very athletic.”
Iowa won’t have much time to celebrate its first victory in nearly 11 months. Next week the team will travel to Ames for a matchup against in-state rival Iowa State. If it is to comeback to Iowa City as a 2-1 team, head coach Kirk Ferentz says, much improvement will be needed this week in practice.
“I think we have to improve on everything,” Ferentz said. “But finishing drives offensively, we’ve got to—moving the ball is one thing, but you’ve got to finish drives. And then defensively, we have to play every series like it’s our last.”